Showing posts with label US Military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Military. Show all posts

January 22, 2019

Supreme Court Brings-back The Trump Ban on Transgender Soldiers




       







 The Supreme Court on Tuesday revived the Trump administration’s policy of barring most transgender people from serving in the military. In a brief, unsigned order, the justices temporarily stayed trial court decisions blocking the policy while litigation in the lower courts moves forward.

The vote was 5 to 4. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.

The policy announced on Twitter by President Trump and refined by the defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, generally prohibits people from identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from military service. It makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly and for those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

Challenges to the policy have had mixed success in the lower courts. Trial judges around the nation issued injunctions blocking it, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, is expected to rule soon on whether to affirm one of them. 

On Jan. 4, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a third injunction, that one issued by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a federal trial judge in Washington. The appeals court said its ruling was “not a final determination on the merits.” But it handed the administration at least a provisional victory.

The Supreme Court granted stays of two other injunctions, issued by Federal District Court judges in California and Washington State, both in the Ninth Circuit.

Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, representing the administration, had argued that the stays were needed to address a troubling phenomenon.

“It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” Mr. Francisco wrote. “Unfortunately, this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”

“Such injunctions previously were rare, but in recent years they have become routine,” he wrote. “In less than two years, federal courts have issued 25 of them, blocking a wide range of significant policies involving national security, national defense, immigration, and domestic issues.”
The administration had also asked the justices to immediately hear appeals, an unusual request when an appeals court has not yet ruled. The court turned down those requests.

The Supreme Court’s rules say it will review a federal trial court’s ruling before an appeals court has spoken: “only upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this court.”

In a separate brief, Mr. Francisco wrote, “This case satisfies that standard.”

“It involves,” he wrote, “an issue of imperative public importance: the authority of the U.S. military to determine who may serve in the nation’s armed forces.”

He told the justices that prompt action was required to ensure that the Supreme Court could rule before its term ends in June. The alternative, he said, was to defer Supreme Court arguments in the matter to the term that starts in October, with a decision probably not coming until 2020.

But lawyers for current and prospective members of the military challenging the policy said there was no need to upend the status quo while the case proceeded.

“Transgender people have been serving openly in all branches of the United States military since June 2016, including on active duty in combat zones,” their brief said. “Transgender individuals have been permitted to enlist in the military since January 2018.”

“The government has presented no evidence that their doing so harms military readiness, effectiveness or lethality,” the brief said.

The hundreds of people grandfathered in under the new policy, the brief added, “cannot be squared with the government’s claims of urgency to eliminate all other transgender personnel.”

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

Follow Adam Liptak on Twitter: @adamliptak.

January 18, 2019

Born in Grand Rapids, Vet From Fighting in Afghanistan But The Sheriff Turned Him in To ICE for Deportation



   

                                                                 

 Jilmar Ramos-Gomez
CREDIT JILMAR RAMOS-GOMEZ
                                      



Introduction:
As an American Citizen I am ashame when I see these injustices for people that love this county. While drugs and trains of paying illegal immigrants cross underneath electrical lit tunnels and are dropped off at their destination indifferent about walls at the border. Meanwhile an ageing baby president insist in keeping the government shut as you read this. This is what some people elected for the rest of us. They call it democracy, I call it racism and the wish to go back to what things were before the the 1960's. Everything in it's place. Brown with brown, white bathroom for white only. Black, gays and other that don't fit the mold burning and lynching will keep them from demanding what is for white's only.
But if you live long enough you know that nothing last forever and when the pendulum reverses everything that went on on the last swing will no loner be.Pleasse read this story and see what is happening in our country. How long can we let it go on?




When Maria Gomez showed up late one December afternoon at a Grand Rapids, Michigan, jail to pick up her son, an American-born Marine who served in Afghanistan, the deputies told her something that, frankly, made no sense.

“Your son was just sent with immigration,” she recalls the deputies telling her. “He is in their hands.”

It must be a mistake, she told them. “My son doesn’t have anything to do with immigration. He is a US citizen,” she said. “They said ‘we don’t know anything about that. He’s in their hands now.’ It almost gave me a heart attack.” 

When she returned to the jail’s parking lot, she saw him enter a white van and be driven away.

Her son, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, had served in Afghanistan as a lance corporal from 2011 to 2014 and returned to the United States suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He’s had episodes where he’ll disappear for days, and no one in his family will know where he’s gone.

It happened again Nov. 21, when Ramos-Gomez was arrested on suspicion of attempting to start a fire in a stairwell at a Grand Rapids hospital and trying to reach the facility’s helipad, according to his attorneys and local law enforcement. Ramos-Gomez, 27, pleaded guilty to a trespassing charge and was ordered released on Dec. 14 on his own recognizance to await sentencing, his attorneys said.

Instead, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office held him for more than an hour so he could be picked up by another county that transports and detains individuals for ICE.

Chuck DeWitt, undersheriff for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, said that his officers had followed procedures and that everything about the case appeared routine. He regrets what happened to Ramos-Gomez but says that it was ICE, not the sheriff’s department, that made the ultimate decision to identify him as a target.

“It sounds very harsh but there isn’t anything we could’ve done differently in this situation that could have prevented that,” he said. “It is regretful but under these circumstances, I don’t know where we would have prevented that.” 


ICE put the blame squarely on Ramos-Gomez, saying that when ICE officers interviewed him in jail he claimed he was “a foreign national illegally present in the US.” Because of that, ICE asked the sheriff’s department to hold him after he was released from local custody, and the sheriff’s department complied.

The ACLU of Michigan, which has taken up Ramos-Gomez’s case and has called for an investigation into the detention, said ICE’s statement opened up many questions.

“This shows how flimsy the evidence is that ICE relies on to deport people from this country,” said Miriam Aukerman, a senior attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, who said the organization was investigating whether Ramos-Gomez had in fact told ICE he wasn’t a US citizen.

Ramos-Gomez had a US passport and identification that noted his veteran status, Aukerman said.

“It is appalling that a comment by a mentally ill individual is enough to get you deported. What kind of investigation is that?”

The ACLU attorney also wondered why ICE had interviewed him in jail.

“If his name is John Smith, ICE isn’t interviewing him,” she said.

Because Ramos-Gomez had been transferred to ICE on a Friday, his family was unable to secure his release until the following Monday, when his lawyer called ICE officials.

“I don’t have words to say this because I feel like they don’t care,” Gomez told BuzzFeed News. “They don’t care that my son served this country.” 

Aukerman said the incident reflected a larger problem with immigration enforcement.

“This is what immigration enforcement has come to in this country. It is so indiscriminate that we take people who served our country and try to deport them,” Aukerman said. “This is a tragedy. He risked his life and mental health for our country, came back and did not get the services he needs, and now ICE is trying to deport him. It is outrageous and appalling.”

“His immigration attorney said to ICE: Here is his military record, birth certificate, and ICE was like: ‘Oops, we got a US citizen,’” she added. ICE officials said that once they received the information they authorized his release, and no further action will be taken.

The case highlights what advocates believe is the problem with cooperation between some sheriff’s departments and ICE. When a person is arrested, fingerprints are compared with prints in federal databases that alert immigration authorities if the person is wanted. It’s at this point that ICE officials will often request a “detainer” to hold the individual until their officers can show up and take them into custody.

While in some areas, “sanctuary” policies limit cooperation between local authorities and ICE, that’s not the case in Kent County. The sheriff’s department has an agreement with ICE to hold individuals for up to three days and to be reimbursed for the extra detention.

The Michigan jail also allows ICE access within the facility to interview inmates, like Ramos-Gomez, whenever they’d like. In sanctuary areas, like California, inmates must sign forms consenting to an interview with ICE officials and are told that an attorney can be present with them. 

DeWitt said that his office has asked ICE to review its policies so that a similar situation doesn’t happen.

DeWitt said he still supports cooperation between federal and local law enforcement, saying such cooperation is necessary to protect residents. But advocates see it differently, saying such cooperation actually chills trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

For her part, Ramos-Gomez’s mother, who came to the country from Guatemala, said that she will not trust law enforcement any longer.

The case is indicative of the problems that can come up when such interactions are rampant, Aukerman said.

“It’s terrible but it is the predictable consequence of this blind willingness to hand people over to ICE without looking,” she said, noting that ICE utilizes “administrative” warrants and not warrants signed by judges to request and hold individuals. “If ICE says ‘please, hand him over’ that is not enough. That is not what we should be doing.”

ICE has detained American citizens in the past, including a Queens man whose case was detailed by BuzzFeed News. Late last year, an American-born man sued ICE for detaining him.

“There’s sometimes complex questions about citizenship, but in this case it is 100% obvious. He was born in a US hospital,” Aukerman said. “It reflects an incredibly sloppy approach by ICE.”

The ACLU sent a letter Wednesday to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and the county Board of Commission demanding an investigation. DeWitt said that a US passport was not listed as one of Ramos-Gomez’s possessions but that often items are not marked by deputies. 

The county’s agreement with ICE is up in September, and Ramos-Gomez’s case will be a factor in the decision-making on whether to continue with it or not, DeWitt said.

Meanwhile, Ramos-Gomez’s family is just happy he’s home and not in ICE custody or deported to Guatemala, where his family had initially come from. His mother said she couldn’t sleep the weekend he was in ICE custody.

But when he was released Dec. 17, she waited for him in the detention center parking lot. When he walked out of custody, they immediately hugged.

“I can’t believe they did this to you, son,” she told him. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” he told her. “They didn’t believe me.”

October 20, 2017

No Mention of Soldiers Killed in Niger for 12 Days, Did Trump Forget?


 One of four US soldiers killed in Niger. The guy that send them there did not even say sorry
Did He forget?
 What happened in Benghazi?
On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in an infamous terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya at the time, was killed.
The incident prompted an extensive, costly investigation and was a source of controversy for Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State when the attack occurred. It was still around as a thorn in her 2016 presidential campaign.
The Obama administration's initial explanation of the attack, which was based on faulty CIA intelligence, led to accusations of a cover-up from Republicans. Some also accused the administration of withholding military assistance to the Benghazi compound.
Clinton and the Obama administration were widely criticized, but no evidence of a cover-up was ever found, and House Republicans even released a report that cleared Clinton of any wrongdoing over Benghazi in June 2016. 
Still, Benghazi remains controversial and a talking point for conservative news outlets, especially Fox News.  
What happened in Niger?
The soldiers killed in Niger were part of a 12-man team of Green Berets, training Nigerian soldiers in a remote part of the country. These soldiers belonged to the Third Special Forces group based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 
As they were leaving a meeting with local community leaders on October 4, they were ambushed by roughly 50 fighters believed to be linked to ISIS (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is also active in the surrounding region). 
The soldiers were driving unarmored pickup trucks and immediately returned fire. The firefight reportedly lasted roughly 30 minutes. It was eventually broken up via French air support and the soldiers were evacuated with helicopters. 
Initially, the government only confirmed three had been killed and two wounded in the incident, along with two. But it was eventually reported a fourth soldier had gone missing during the ambush. His remains were found by Nigerien forces roughly 48 hours after the ambush.
The Department of Defense at first withheld information about the missing soldier. The circumstances of how he was separated and the nature of his death are unknown. 
Many questions about what occurred remain, especially regarding why intelligence apparently didn't indicate the soldiers would meet such heavy resistance.  

Are there any legitimate parallels between Benghazi and Niger?

Beyond the fact four Americans were killed in the respective incidents in Niger and Benghazi, the only parallel is the botched initial responses by both the Obama administration and Trump — responses that only led people to ask more questions about what went down.
It took Trump 12 days to respond to the deadly incident in Niger and he only did so after questioned by a reporter. In his response, Trump falsely claimed past presidents, including President Obama, didn't call the families of fallen soldiers. He then called the widow and mother of one of the soldiers, Sgt. La David Johnson, only to end up disrespecting the family on Tuesday night. The president allegedly said Johnson "knew what he signed up for" during the call. 
Trump denied it, but Cowanda Jones-Johnson, the fallen soldier's mother, told The Washington Post, Trump "did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband." 
Johnson was the soldier who was separated from the 12-man team during the ambush. The circumstances of Johnson's death and the fact he was missing for two days is perhaps the most curious aspect of the incident in Niger. Specific details on why he was left behind have not yet emerged, hence the questions that have followed Trump's controversial treatment of this deadly incident. 
The other three soldiers killed in the ambush have been identified as Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, 35; Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, 39; and Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, 29. 

Why is the U.S. in Niger?

Many Americans may not have known the U.S. was present in Niger until this incident, which is another parallel to Benghazi.
The truth is the U.S. military has been involved in a broad effort to combat terrorism across Africa for years and Niger is just one of many countries the U.S. is currently present in. This started far before Trump — the U.S. military has had a presence in Niger since 2013, when Obama was still president. 
The U.S. military is also active in Chad, Somalia, Libya, and Cameroon, among other countries in Africa. In May, a U.S. Navy Seal was killed in a raid on an Al-Shabab compound in Somalia. This was the first combat death involving a U.S. soldier in Somalia since the well-known "Black Hawk Down" incident in 1993, which resulted in the deaths of 18 American service members.
At the moment, there are roughly 800 U.S. troops in Niger, and the U.S. is in the process of building a major drone base in the city of Agadez, located in central Niger. The four U.S. soldiers killed on October 4 were training Nigerien forces in the broader counterterrorism effort. 
The Department of Defense announced Tuesday it was launching an investigation into the incident in Niger. But is this "Trump's Benghazi"? Only time — and maybe a congressional investigation or 4,000 — will tell.

October 9, 2017

2 Iraqi Gay Men In Military Found Love Amid War But Not Peace Nor Safety




In Seattle each night, when the guns fell silent in Iraq, Btoo Allami would invite his friend Nayyef Hrebid over for dinner.
The two first locked eyes on a dusty battlefield in Ramadi. After days of exchanging hasty glances amid gunfire, they snuck away one night to listen to Michael Jackson on shared earbuds.
The music stopped, but a love story was just beginning. 
A decade ago, Allami was a sergeant in the Iraqi military when he met Hrebid, then a translator for the US Marines. 
Militants had seized a hospital in Ramadi, and they were part of a mission to reclaim it.
When not defusing bombs, they'd talk late into the night at a pitch black lot surrounded by Humvees. Allami fell in love, unafraid of the war, yet terrified by what was happening with Hrebid. 
Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami at their home in Seattle on August 13, 2017.
Their love story would take them through two continents as they joined the 22 million refugees in the world, all fleeing war, grinding poverty and in their case, persecution from militants and relatives. Last year, only 14,700 Iraqi refugees were resettled worldwide, says Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency. The UN does not have the number of applicants who claim asylum based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Few countries, if any, collect such statistics, he says. 

Taking Chances 

Neither Hrebid nor Allami knew the other was gay.  Iraq is not a country where the same-sex attraction is discussed in the open. 
LGBT people in Iraq risk harassment, beatings, and brutal killings -- sometimes by family members. ISIS, which held large swaths of Iraqi territory until recently, has also targeted gay men, tossing many to their deaths from tall buildings.
Despite the risks, Allami took a chance two weeks after they met. "I love you," he told Hrebid.
Hrebid did not say a word, but drew him close and kissed him.
Allami was so excited, he didn't eat for two days. At the time, he didn't know that Hrebid loved his calm demeanor and the way his dark hair shone in the sunlight. 
Their relationship grew but in secret. They knew loving each other openly could be deadly. Even during the days of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, when the US did not officially allow gay people to serve in the military, Hrebid says a base officer allowed them to spend time together at the American base. 
Their talks put them in a bubble. During those moments, war and bloodshed did not exist.

One last night

Hrebid loved his job as a translator. 
At the base, his American buddies called him David to protect his identity. But word got out that he was gay, and that he was a US translator. His name was added to a militant hit list posted on the streets of Ramadi.
When the two men were separated by continents,  Hrebid would draw sketches of  him and Allami.
People started talking. It was time to leave. 
In March 2009, Hrebid applied for asylum as part of a program that gives preference to Iraqis and Afghans who translated for the US government overseas. Hrebid's application was approved eight months later. 
The night he got his US visa, they sat up all night in a candlelit room, hugging each other and crying. 
As much as it crushed him, Hrebid flew to Seattle in December 2009, leaving Allami behind.
But they kept their promise to stay in touch. One night, as they chatted on Skype, Allami's relatives overheard them and realized he was gay. 
Some of his relatives accused him of bringing shame to the family, and wanted him killed, he says. Terrified, Allami deserted the military and stuffed a backpack with pants and a few T-shirts. Hrebid paid for his ticket to flee to Lebanon in November 2010.
Seven thousand miles away, Hrebid started his new life in Seattle, the only place he knew someone in the US. 
But while he was finally safe, he'd lie awake worrying. What if Allami was detained for overstaying his 30-day tourist visa and deported back to Iraq? A return home now included the risk of arrest by the military for desertion.  
One day, while at a party, Hrebid met activist Michael Failla and told him about his relationship with Allami. His new friend would become their lifeline. 

Living in the shadows

Allami's new life in Beirut did not involve parties and new friendships. He lived in the shadows and worked illegally as a shoe salesman for $250 a month. Hrebid sent him money to help with upkeep as he desperately sought a way to get him to Seattle. 
With every day spent away from Hrebid, Allami sank further into depression. He'd sit in bed at night and guzzle bottles of beer.
Hrebid blamed himself as Allami languished in a new country. Despite the time difference, they did their best to maintain a "normal" relationship. They would Skype and virtually eat together -- breakfast for one and dinner for the other.
"We would cook together, and discuss things almost like we lived together," Hrebid recalls. 
They also showered each other with sentimental gifts, including locks of each other's hair.
Hrebid would sit in bed, smell Allami's hair and cry. Other days, he'd send Allami long letters describing his undying love. 
"My heart melts at the sound of your voice," one letter says. "When I look at you, I see clear skies." 
In December 2010, desperate to join Hrebid, Allami filed for asylum from the United Nations refugee agency, not knowing it would take years. 
The United Nations refugee agency interviewed Allami eight times, but his application was bogged down by translation errors, according to Failla, who attended several interviews with him. 
One error in particular complicated his case. During one asylum interview, he was asked whether as a soldier, he was familiar with the Abu Ghraib prison torture. He said he watched it on TV -- but it was translated that he witnessed it first-hand, implying he was complicit, Failla says. 
In the process of seeking asylum, applicants can have a preference for country of resettlement, but countries decide whether to accept an applicant.
Allami's preference was the US. But the agonizing wait for a decision was so long, he applied for a separate visa to Canada at its embassy in Beirut. 
In March 2013, nearly three years after he escaped from Iraq, Canada said yes. 
Allami arrived in Vancouver in May of the same year. He was now 150 miles away from Hrebid, and their dream of living together suddenly seemed within reach.
Hrebid would drive to Vancouver every weekend to see him. On Valentine's Day 2014, they got married at a courthouse in Vancouver, with Failla as a witness. 
"We always say Michael was our angel -- the world needs more angels like Michael," Hrebid says. 

Washington state recognized same-sex marriages at the time, and Hrebid quickly applied for a visa for his new husband at the US Consulate in Montreal.
When the consular official approved it, Allami sat down on the embassy floor and wept. Hrebid covered his mouth and screamed.
"I was shaking so hard," Allami says. "I asked the embassy person to repeat again just to be sure."

A new chapter

The date March 6, 2015, will forever be etched in Allami's mind. He finally moved to Seattle to be with Hrebid.
A few months later, on August 8 of the same year, they had their dream wedding at Failla's house, surrounded by friends. 
Allami (left) and Hrebid  on their wedding day in Seattle.
Allami then applied for permanent residency -- known as a green card -- as Hrebid's husband. The couple relishes their life in Seattle, where they live with their Siberian Husky, Cesar, and cat, Lodus. A rainbow flag draped over the balcony of their new townhome flutters in the wind. 
Inside their home, black and white photos of their wedding day line the walls. In other photos, they are hiking through the mountains or simply gazing into each other's eyes. 
After six years of living on different continents, their new life is idyllic. Hrebid is a kitchen specialist at a home improvement store while Allami is a maintenance worker for a residential building.
Failla describes the couple as "major influencers" in the gay community in Seattle. They open their home to LGBT people who've fled the Middle East, help them get jobs and into schools, and teach them about their new culture in the US. They've helped 21 people find jobs and places to stay, and are working with several rights groups such as Canada's Rainbow Refugee to assist more.
Hrebid and Allami play with their dog, Cesar, outside their home.
"First we were the ones who needed help now it's our turn to help," Hrebid says. "Anything we can do, even if it's changing people's minds just by sharing our story."
Their story is already bringing about change.
Christine Matthews, a deputy director for the UN refugee agency, said last year they used the gaps in Allami's case as a learning experience. They have since launched an effort to sensitize staff on the best ways to process such claims. 
"We need to do better for refugees, all refugees including LGBT refugees," she said.
And after years of separation, Hrebid still wakes up at night and asks: Am I dreaming or is this real? Are we really married? Will I wake up one day and find you gone?
"It's almost like that fear never leaves you," he says. 
In Iraq, the two say they are considered an embarrassment to their communities, and family members don't utter their names. 
"Out of Iraq," a documentary on their romance and fight for asylum, recently won an Emmy, but its two stars say they are hardly feted back home. 
Even though they can't go back to Iraq for fear of being killed, they've learned to define "home" in their own way.
"He's my family, he's my safe place, my love," Allami says as Hrebid gently strokes his face. 
"I may not have my country anymore, but he's my country now."

August 30, 2017

Def.Sec. Mattis Will Allow Transgender Troops to Serve Pending Study









 Defense Secretary Jim Mattis late Tuesday announced that transgender troops will be allowed to continue serving in the military pending the results of a study by experts. 
The announcement follows an order from President Trump — first announced in a tweet — declaring that transgender service members can no longer serve in the military, effectively reversing an Obama administration policy. The order also affects the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Coast Guard.
"Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning the implementation of his policy direction," Mattis said in the statement. "In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place."
Mattis' move buys time for the Pentagon to determine how and if it will allow thousands of transgender troops to continue to serve, whether they will receive medical treatment, or how they will be discharged.
As Defense Secretary, Mattis has emphasized that he has little tolerance for policies that detract from military readiness or the Pentagon's effectiveness on the battlefield. At the last moment in June, he delayed the Pentagon's plan to accept new transgender troops. His reasoning: He demanded more study to determine the effect of recruiting them on the Pentagon's ability to fight and win wars.
Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon rescinded a longstanding ban on transgender troops from serving. It also outlined how those troops could receive medical treatment, including gender reassignment surgery, if it was deemed medically necessary.
Trump's order by tweet on July 26 caught the Pentagon by surprise. The tweets said there was no room in the ranks for transgender troops and that the government would no longer pay for their medical treatment.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded by saying that the Pentagon would not change its policy until it was notified officially by the White House.
The president issued that notification Friday night. It directed Mattis to study the issue and determine how to implement Trump's direction. It was assailed by advocates for transgender troops who called it discriminatory, and the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against it.
Last year, the Pentagon commissioned a study by the nonpartisan RAND Corp. to examine the effects on military readiness of allowing transgender troops to serve openly and the cost of providing them medical treatment. The study estimated that a few to several thousand transgender troops are in the active duty force of 1.3 million. Researchers found that paying for their health care needs would amount to about $8 million per year and their effect on readiness would be negligible. 
, USA TODAY

August 27, 2017

NYT: 'Trump Gives Mattis Wide Discretion Over Transgender Ban'






President Trump signed a long-awaited directive on Friday that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military but gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion in determining whether those already in the armed forces can continue to serve.
Mr. Mattis’s decisions will be based on several criteria, including military effectiveness and budgetary concerns, a senior White House official said in briefing reporters.
Left unclear was how many of the thousands of transgender service personnel estimated to be in the military might keep serving. By putting the onus on Mr. Mattis, the president appeared to open the door to allowing at least some transgender service members to remain in the military.
Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said that Mr. Mattis had received the guidance but did not indicate how he would proceed.
Mr. Trump abruptly announced the ban last month, helping to resolve a fight in Congress over whether taxpayer dollars should be used for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members. Objections from conservatives had threatened a $790 billion defense and security spending package. Mr. Mattis has six months to develop a plan to implement Mr. Trump’s directive, which also applies to the Department of Homeland Security, where the Coast Guard is housed.
The White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under White House ground rules for the briefing, described the memo as a return to policies in place before the Obama administration moved last year to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military without fear of punishment.
The official also said that the military would no longer pay for sex reassignment surgeries unless withholding such funds would harm the health of someone already transitioning.
Mr. Trump’s directive precludes transgender people from joining the military unless Mr. Mattis, in consultation with the secretary of homeland security, “provides a recommendation to the contrary that I find convincing.”
The president surprised much of the Pentagon last month when he tweeted that the American military could not afford the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of including transgender members.
Advocates for transgender service members vowed to push back, arguing that the president was disguising discrimination as concern for military readiness.
“Imagine, if you would, if the president tried to pull the same prank on Jewish soldiers or gay and lesbian soldiers or Chinese soldiers or African-American soldiers,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, an organization that successfully lobbied in 2016 to lift the ban on transgender service in the military. “To pull the rug out from under a group of service members who have been defending our country is inconsistent with two centuries of American history.” Mr. Trump won praise from social conservatives.
“President Trump is doing what he promised: putting the military’s focus where it belongs — fighting and winning wars,” Tony Perkins, a Marine veteran and president of the conservative Family Research Council, said in a statement. “Political correctness doesn’t win wars — and the president is ending policies that pretend it does.”
Capt. Jennifer Peace, 32, said Mr. Trump’s announcement of the ban last month prompted her to tell her new brigade commander that she transitioned three years ago — a fact that she said was not relevant to the policy change.
“The only thing that I’ve ever asked for is to be treated like every other soldier,” said Captain Peace, who has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
She said that the ban has brought anxiety both to her family and to the unit of 70 people she leads at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State and that the new directive fell short of allaying their concerns.
“The clarity isn’t there yet,” Captain Peace said of the memo. “How is my deployability any different from anyone else’s? I am as capable as anyone in my unit.”
Mr. Trump cast himself as a defender of gay and transgender rights during the 2016 presidential campaign. But more recently, he has sought to address the concerns of conservatives in Congress, who objected to paying for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members.
The directive requires Mr. Mattis to submit a plan by Feb. 21 for implementing the new policy, including how to address transgender individuals already serving in the armed forces.
In deciding whether any transgender service personnel can stay in the military, the directive says, Mr. Mattis must weigh considerations of “military effectiveness,” “lethality” and “budgetary constraints.”
“Until the secretary has made that determination, no action may be taken against such individuals,” adds the directive.
Late Friday night, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the Pentagon should finish reviewing the impact of transgender recruits before any policy changes were made.
“It would be a step in the wrong direction to force currently serving transgender individuals to leave the military solely on the basis of their gender identity rather than medical and readiness standards that should always be at the heart of Department of Defense personnel policy,” Mr. McCain said in a statement.
An estimated 2,000 to 11,000 active duty and reserve troops are transgender, according to a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation.
Mr. Mattis’s plan, which is to be developed in consultation with the secretary of homeland security, is to take effect by March 23.

Featured Posts

Trump Administration Rolled Backwards The Clock for LGBT and People Living with HIV

                                   By  Sean Cahill HIV Plus Magazine   Last weekend marked the two-year anniv...