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Mike Pence Pushed Trump To Ban Trans People From The Military

Vice President Mike Pence and anti-LGBTQ activists advised President Trump’s revised trans military ban, according to recent reports.

On Friday evening, President Donald Trump released the latest version of his policy banning transgender people from serving openly in the military, in which the White House says trans individuals will only be permitted to enlist under “limited circumstances.” In a 44-page document, the administration states that recruits who “require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified.”

The only way for transgender people to join the armed forces is to present as the gender they were assigned at birth. The policy states troops must be “stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex” in order to be eligible for active duty.

Multiple outlets report that some of America’s leading foes of queer and trans equality helped shape the president’s ban, including Trump’s second-in-command.

As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern claims, Pence “played a leading role” in writing the new policy, which he says was “designed to provide pretextual justification for Trump’s ban.”

Although Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis reportedly advised Trump to allow trans people to serve openly in the military in a set of recommendations delivered to the president earlier this month, ThinkProgress claims Pence “overruled” his advice.

The outlets allege the vice presidenta noted opponent of LGBTQ rightswas part of a “working group” which includes Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Ryan T. Anderson of The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank.

Both figures have been extremely vocal about their opposition to trans military service.

When Trump announced in a series of July 2017 tweets that he intended to reverse former Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s year-old policy allowing transgender people to enlist for the first time, Perkins claimed the unexpected move was a “return to military priorities.” He referred to trans military service as “social experimentation” which had “crippled” the armed forces.

Perkins’ involvement in advising the ban was first reported by the New York Times last year.

The FRC also claimed allowing trans individuals to serve openly would set the Pentagon back “billions.” A RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon, however, tabulated it would cost a much slimmer $2.4 million and $8.4 million, a fraction of the Pentagon’s annual budget.

Meanwhile, Anderson published a 2018 book, When Harry Became Sally, arguing that transgender people are “mentally ill.” It also opposed gender confirmation surgery, falsely claiming it leads to higher rates of suicide.

As ThinkProgress reports, the arguments outlined in Anderson’s anti-trans screed “directly parallel” those detailed in Friday’s report.

In the document, the White House claims that “allowing transgender persons who have not undergone a full sex reassignment [sic] would invade the expectations of privacy that the strict male-female demarcation in berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities is meant to serve.”

“The potential for discord in the unit during the routine execution of daily activities is substantial,” it alleges, citing an oft-repeated assertion debunked in the RAND study.

Just hours before the policy was released last week, the administration refused to comply with a court order to officially release the names of advisors who had provided input on Trump’s trans military ban. The White House had until 8pm Thursday to meet the deadlinebut declined to provide the requested information.

LGBTQ advocacy groups have pledged to lobby for an injunction against the ban, which was blocked by at least four federal courts. At least two trans people have successfully enlisted since the president’s policy was lifted on Jan. 1.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Nico Lang

Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.