President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that transgender people will no longer be able to serve in the U.S. military.
Matt Thorn, Executive Director of OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy and legal services organization for the LGBT military community, spoke to ConnectingVets.com about how this will affect transgender service members.
“Well, we don’t tweet federal policy in this country, so there is that,” Thorn said, when asked if these tweets should be taken as policy or if they are a distraction. “But I am very concerned and I think that individuals have a right to be concerned and it deserves the attention that it’s getting, because this is again, pseudo policy by Twitter by this president.”
He added that, “it’s showing a blatant disregard for service members who happen to be transgender and who are serving and defending our country’s freedom. Voluntarily putting their lives at risk.”
A new policy has not yet been put into writing, but Thorn said he is taking Trump’s tweets as an indication that something might be coming soon. “We have every intention of challenging it in court if they actually do put this in writing or when they put this in writing,” he said.
“I think that these tweets are dangerous,” Thorn said. “We have transgender service members who are leading commands and who are in elite teams within each of our service branches. If they are being distracted because they don’t know if the president is going to follow through on this or not, or the fact that the president is out there saying ‘we don’t want you,’ it’s a distraction for them.”
“And it’s putting our service members at risk who are deployed overseas and it’s, quite frankly, I think a threat to national security in and of itself,” he added. “Because it’s not– it’s throwing a lot of disruption into a force that prides itself on being very cohesive.”
LGBT service members have been calling him, including from combat zones Thorn said, fearing “that they’re going to be kicked out of serving. These are individuals who have pledged their lives to this country and who have built careers in our military and who lead and protect– who have taken an oath to protect and defend our Constitution with their lives if necessary. And they’re having their commander in chief say ‘we’re going to kick you out.'”
The argument that their medical care costs are a problem for readiness is “an absurd argument from the president and a lot of the individuals on the right tend to like to use that argument,” Thorn said.
“The policy has been lifted for almost a year now and there has been no issue to readiness or cohesion with our military,” he added. “This is about service members who want to know that the person to their right and the person to their left have their back. That’s it, regardless of gender identity.”