By Bill Parry
Mayor Bill de Blasio called President Donald Trump’s decision last week to ban transgender troops from military service both “fundamentally un-American and unconscionable.” The commander in chief announced the policy change in a series of tweets last week.
“The United States should be leading the way on inclusivity and diversity, not running away from it,” de Blasio said. “The brave Americans who chose to dedicate themselves to serving this nation deserve dignity and respect, regardless of their gender identity. There is no doubt that our military is only made more mighty when it embraces the inclusivity and diversity at the bedrock of our nation.”
At an unrelated Long Island City press conference hours after the president’s July 26 tweet, the mayor turned over the microphone to City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who celebrated his fifth wedding anniversary with husband Dan Hendrick last week.
Hendrick joined the U.S. Navy as a teenager before he was out of the closet, and on the mere suspicion he was gay, he was removed from the military, before his parents knew his orientation, Van Bramer explained.
“We have left that time behind and now appreciate the courage and the willingness of every American to serve our country, and even risk their life, for our country,” Van Bramer said. “This president is a bully. This president is using his presidency to take the most vulnerable among us, and separate them from us, and deny them their heroism and their courage when they want to serve our country and they want, and are willing to risk their lives so that we can be free. It is outrageous. It is disgraceful.”
A total of 56 retired generals and admirals warned that the president’s anti-transgender tweets, if implemented, would degrade military readiness in a joint statement issued by the Palm Center, an independent research center.
“This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy,” they wrote.
“As a result, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving — and those who want to serve — must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity.”
The American people seem to agree. In a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released last Friday, when asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement: “Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.” Twenty-seven percent said they should not, while the rest answered “don’t know.”
“Everyone should be angry that this president is willing to do that to the transgender community,” Van Bramer said. “They are, in fact, very good and effective servants and soldiers and warriors — just as good as anyone else. And for him to say — in these ridiculous, silly, juvenile tweets — that somehow our people are going to endanger the ability of our military to be effective and forceful and victorious is a disgraceful attempt to label the trans community as not having valor. It’s absolutely outrageous, it’s disgraceful, and we should all be outraged.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr