By Greg Hernandez
President Donald Trump was blasted at a Los Angeles LGBT Center press conference today after announcing via Twitter that he wants to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.
“President Trump’s despicable reversal of the Pentagon’s policy allowing transgender people to openly serve in the military is beneath contempt,” CEO Lorri L. Jean told reporters gathered at the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza..
“He dehumanizes the very people who have pledged to risk their lives for our country and the values our nation stands for: freedom, liberty and justice. Our transgender brothers and sisters are Americans. They serve our country with honor and distinction, in spite of the very real discrimination they still face. We can and must do better.”
It was just last year that then-President Barack Obama’s administration announced that transgender people could serve openly in the military.
Among those transgender military personnel currently serving are Center employee Rudy Akbarian who works as an employment specialist helping homeless LGBTQ youth find jobs.
“The military is an extremely diverse organization and it should stay that way,” Akbarian said at the press conference. “I have to ask, ‘Why would any president prevent those who want to serve our country – who are willing to lay down their lives for our country – from doing so?’”
He added: “We deserve the right to fight for what we love. As a trans service member I have fought very long and hard to be my authentic self. No one is going to take that passion or my love for this country away from me.
“In the military, there is no giving up, you just don’t quit. I’ve had too many people supporting me to just give up, so I don’t plan to do that. I love my country, the people I serve and the people who serve with me.”
Surprise announcement via Twitter
Trump made the surprise announcement in a series of morning posts on Twitter: “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”
He added: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
There are approximately 15,000 transgender people actively serving in the US military and there are another 134,000 transgender veterans alive today, according to The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
“Shameful and Outrageous”
Jean described Trump’s announcement of a change in policy as “shameful and outrageous” and based on false claims of medical costs and disruption.
‘This is simply another in a long list of falsehoods perpetrated by this President,” she said. “Not only is there absolutely no evidence for his claims, the evidence is exactly the opposite.”
Amanda Goad, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, pointed out at the press conference that Trump’s tweets “are not a plan” and will have to undergo legal scrutiny.
“Even a commander in chief cannot change policy via Twitter,” Goad said.
Regardless of how Trump fares in implementing his anti-transgender tweets into actual policy, Jean said he is once again showing his true colors.
“There is no longer any question about how this President and his administration feel about LGBT people,” Jean said. “They want to deny us equal protection of the law, they want to send us back into the closet, they want to stop us from occupying our rightful place as full and complete members of American society.
“We will continue to fight Trump’s attempts to attack and diminish LGBT people which on serves to diminish all Americans.
Originally published July 2017