Groups of retired generals are dueling publicly over their support and opposition to President Donald Trump’s military transgender ban announcement.
Fifty-six retired generals and admirals said in a statement released by the Palm Center Tuesday that banning transgender troops in the military would hurt military readiness. But on the same day, another group of retired generals applauded Trump’s move to prioritize warfighting and strike down former President Barack Obama’s “social experiment” as courageous.
Trump tweeted out an announcement of the ban on transgenders serving openly in the military on July 26.
“The Commander in Chief has tweeted a total ban of honorably serving transgender troops,” the retired generals and admirals stated. “This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy.”
“As a result, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” they added.
The reaction from more socially conservative retired generals was precisely the opposite, with these flag officers saying Trump’s decision may be the most important he will ever make in terms of securing the Pentagon’s warfighting capacity.
“We write today to express our gratitude to you for making the extremely courageous decision to reverse President [Barack] Obama’s transgender social experiment,” the retired flag officers wrote, according to The Washington Times. “There may be an enormous amount of vitriol directed at you for making this policy correction, but please know that overturning this policy may have done more in the long-term to save the culture and warfighting capacity of the U.S. military than perhaps any other military policy you will adopt as president.”
“DoD guidelines require that those serving in the military be ‘medically adaptable to the military environment without the necessity of geographic area limitations,’” the retired flag officers continued. “However, both hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery result in the need for specialized medical care which will not be available in all geographic locations.”
The Pentagon is waiting on the White House for direct orders through official channels before implementing any policy on transgender personnel.
It’s unclear how many transgenders there are in the military and existing estimates have proven to be unsubstantiated, but for his part, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said Tuesday that there are 13 transgender members of the Coast Guard. Zukunft also pledged to “not break faith” with these Coast Guardsmen.
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