WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Tuesday night, Secretary Mattis announced currently serving transgender members of the military will not be immediately discharged, despite President Trump’s previous tweets announcing they would not be allowed to serve in any capacity.
“It’s massively disappointing. All of these people we’re talking about are people who volunteered to serve their country,” said retired U.S. Navy Commander Shawn Skelley.
Skelley dedicated two decades to her country, flying S3 Viking aircraft in the U.S. Navy. One day, Skelley came to a life changing realization, “that I myself was transgender, that I am. That I was in the wrong identity, that was honestly the scariest period of my life because I didn’t know where to turn.
In 2006, serving openly wasn’t an option. She retired two years later.
In 2016 after a review and study on the ban on transgender soldiers, the Obama administration announced transgender Americans could openly serve.
The White House issued a formal memorandum Friday, directing the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to return to the previous policy which bans transgender individuals.
To further study the issue, these moves by the administration were met with a lot of opposition. Three lawsuits have been filed, one by the ACLU, another the National Center for Lesbian Rights and joint suit by Lambda Legal Together and the Human Rights Campaign.
Sarah McBride of the Human Rights Campaign said, “The president’s transgender military ban violates the constitutional rights of people serving or wishing to serve by violating their due process rights, by violating their equal protection rights, and by violating their rights to free speech.”
120 house democrats signed a letter this week asking President Trump to reconsider the ban, saying there’s no room for discrimination in our armed forces.
Some pointed out that the Rand Corporation already studied the issue in 2016, and found the impact of transgender personnel on readiness and health care costs in the U.S. military is likely to be small.
For LGBT soldiers and veterans this all feels like déjà vu.
“As to what would happen if ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ was repealed. If gay and lesbian people could openly serve in the military. Readiness would fail. Hail would rain from the skies. None of those things came true,” said Skelley.