House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) yesterday called the the Pentagon's move on Friday to delay allowing transgender troops to enlist in the military "outrageous" and argued that it was done "without providing any evidence."
It is outrageous that the Trump Administration would issue a delay in allowing transgender Americans to serve openly in our military without providing any evidence to support such a decision.
We need to ensure that all those who are talented, driven, and capable and who wish to serve in defense of our country – often in mission-critical positions – are able to do so. If the Pentagon cannot adequately explain or justify this reversal in the policy implementation, it ought not to pursue it.
Hoyer mentioned his role in reversing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as one of the proudest moments of his congressional career. The practice, which was put in place in 1993, barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people from military service. The policy was repealed in 2011.
When I was Majority Leader, one of my proudest moments was bringing to the Floor legislation to end the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and enable gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly.
Our military learned many lessons from that integration, which helped inform the decision by former Defense Secretary Carter to begin the process of allowing transgender Americans to serve openly in uniform as well.
Each day that passes without the policy in place restricts the armed forces’ ability to recruit the best and the brightest, regardless of gender identity.
--Stephen Peters, HRC
Currently transgender people who already serve in the military are allowed to serve openly, but no new recruits are allowed to join, including a recent graduate of West Point and a recent graduate of the Air Force Academy.
Sixteen House Democrats wrote a letter urging Defense Secretary Mattis not to delay accepting transgender recruits.
We strongly encourage you to deny the request for a six month delay in transgender policy implementation. There are thousands of transgender individuals in our military today. There should be no further delay in implementing this policy and allowing transgender individuals to serve the country they love.
Carter’s policy for transgender recruits would allow them to enlist after they have been stable in their gender for 18 months. The service chiefs also requested that be changed to two years.
In their letter, the lawmakers highlighted that the policy announced by Carter was the process of a yearlong Pentagon review that included both military and civilian personnel.
The findings indicated that the medical cost of transgender service members would be limited, and that far from hindering readiness, ‘commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force.
There is no evidence to support this delay, and we are concerned that it could hinder the recruitment of troops.
Signatories were Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Bill Pascrell D-NJ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA), as well as Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC).