Today, President Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in any capacity within the United States armed forces. This decision turns back much of the progress made for LGBTQ equality under the Obama administration, which struck down Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and announced a policy last year allowing transgender Americans to openly serve in the military.

“Thousands of patriotic transgender Americans already serve in our military and are putting their lives on the line to keep us safe and defend our American values,” said Nancy Haque, Co-Executive of Basic Rights Oregon. “There is no place for discrimination in our military.  We have qualified and trained transgender service members in place, as well as transgender Americans who are able and ready to serve our country.  Discharging talented service members simply because of their gender identity is wrong.”

According to the Williams Institute, there are an estimated 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military. Thousands of transgender people have served with honor and distinction in our military, including the more than 134,000 transgender veterans who are alive today. One of Basic Rights’ own valued volunteers, Shannon Scott (pictured above), served in the air force with honor for 12 years.

This decision would not only force those interested in enlisting into the closet – but would also cause thousands of service members who have already come out under the Obama-era policy to be discharged from their roles.

“Integrity is a core military value,” said Haque. “Forcing transgender service members to pretend to be someone they’re not undermines that integrity. As we learned in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, allowing service members to serve with integrity strengthens our Armed Forces.

“The U.S. military is the largest employer of transgender people in the world. All Americans should be allowed to serve openly and with integrity, and should be judged for their qualifications, nothing more, nothing less,” Haque added.

We can’t allow the progress made in recent years to be undone. Join us and sign our petition demanding that Congress defend our country’s transgender military members. Add your name to the petition and make your voice heard here.