The Japanese American Citizens League on expressed deep dismay over President Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that transgender people will be barred from serving in the U.S. military in any capacity.
“This announcement is in direct contradiction to Defense Secretary [James] Mattis’ announcement less than a month ago that the Pentagon was seeking a six-month extension of time to analyze the policy and raises concerns for how this can and will be implemented,” the JACL said in a statement. “We are concerned for the rights of those already serving and the potential infringements upon their civil rights.
“Our community knows all too well the implications of a ban on military service. When over 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II, we were also initially barred from serving in the military.
“Even when service was opened to Japanese Americans, we served in segregated battalions, which also became among the most highly decorated during the war. Among the 14,000 who served, nearly 9,486 Purple Hearts were awarded along with numerous other decorations and recognition, including the Medal of Honor. In 2010, the Japanese American WWII veterans were bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal.
“The lesson to be learned from our experience is that discrimination has no place in our armed services. Patriotism and the ability to serve our country are not limited to certain people and we support those transgender individuals who desire to answer our nation’s call to service …
“The JACL monitors and responds to issues that enhance or threaten the civil and human rights of all Americans and implements strategies to effect positive social change, particularly to the Asian Pacific American community. In 2015, the JACL National Council passed a resolution pledging to support ‘increased access, equity, and fair treatment of the transgender community’ and ‘to be a vibrant ally to the transgender community.’”
Members of Congress have also spoken out.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a wounded veteran of the Iraq War: “With all due respect, Mr. President Donald J. Trump — which seems to be more than you’re willing to show to thousands of servicemembers currently following your orders into danger — what are you talking about?
“Experts say the costs you mentioned are at most just 0.13% of the military budget *for healthcare specifically*. Not 13%, not 1.3%, but 0.13%. It’s indefensible for you to use those costs as a reason to deny healthcare to those who’ve risked their lives for our country at the same time you’re trying to make their healthcare cost more and cover less here at home.
“As someone who served in combat, let me tell you something: when my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down, I didn’t care about the gender identity of the soldiers who were risking their lives to save me — I only cared that they were American troops and that they were there to rescue me. If you’re willing to risk your life for our nation and you can do the job, the military should welcome you, because you can help keep our nation safe — PERIOD.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), a member of the Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: “Transgender Americans serve our country with honor and distinction. The president’s decision is wrong, and perpetuates bigoted stereotypes about the LGBTQ community.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: “The president’s decision to force transgender individuals out of the military is discriminatory, wrong, and un-American. We should not punish or turn away courageous people who are willing to risk their lives to serve our country — we should embrace them.
“The president’s claim that the service of transgender people impacts military readiness is not backed up by facts, nor is it publicly supported by our military leadership. Removing thousands of transgender individuals currently serving would damage our security and make it more difficult to recruit the best possible fighting force going forward. Indeed, Secretary Mattis recently reaffirmed that all service members should be treated with dignity and respect. The White House is playing politics with our national security, plain and simple.
“As we mark the anniversary today of the desegregation of our armed forces, I stand with our transgender service members and all those who selflessly defend our country.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), vice ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress: “President Trump’s decision to kick transgender service members out of the military reflects no understanding or appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who serve. Every American who is willing to risk their life to defend our freedom deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. And any form of discrimination against the transgender community is unacceptable.
“President Trump is the commander-in-chief. He needs to start acting like it.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles), a former Air Force officer and current colonel in the Air Force Reserve: “The president’s exclusion of Americans who happen to be transgender from serving in the military is not based on facts, it is based on naked bigotry. I know because I served on active duty. The military doesn’t care what your sexual orientation or identity is, or who you love. It cares about whether you can shoot straight and complete the mission. The president’s discriminatory decision harms our military readiness for our volunteer-based military.
“Thousands of transgender Americans are already in the military. Why? Because they are qualified, patriotic and willing to die for their country. There is zero evidence a transgender sniper would be any less qualified than a gay sniper or a straight sniper. Today is a sad day for America.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “President Trump’s decision to, via Twitter, ban transgenders from serving in the military is outrageous and flies in the face of what this country is about. When the commander-in-chief insults our brave service members like this, he cheapens the dignity of the office he holds. We should be honoring the men and women in our military, not discriminating against them.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus: “Transgender troops are already serving proudly, loyally and effectively. They deserve our country’s thanks, not scorn from the president. And the House of Representatives agrees. Just this month, we voted bipartisanly to continue to support our transgender men and women in uniform – which is the right thing to do for those who sacrifice everything to protect all of us, no matter who we are.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara), a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus: “Our military has always led the way in helping America treat all its citizens with respect and equality. It is sad that President Trump is undermining that tradition by discriminating against transgender individuals. There is no room for such discriminatory policies for those serving in the military and protecting our country.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), a member of the House Armed Services Committee: “The men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces are patriots and the diversity that exists in our military strengthens us. Unfortunately, President Trump has shown, once again, his inclination to exclude and discriminate. I stand in opposition to President Trump’s ill-conceived policy and I will continue to support a military open to all who wish to serve our country.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who served two tours of duty in the Middle East and is a major in the Army National Guard: “Less than 1% of Americans volunteer to put their lives on the line to serve in our military and protect the American people. The only qualifications that should matter for those who want to serve is a commitment to uphold the Constitution, defend our country, and be capable and qualified to carry out their duties.
“This ban dishonors the thousands of transgender Americans who currently serve in the military. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not kicked out of the military. Our country owes a great debt of gratitude to all our servicemembers, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, as they risk their lives to protect our nation.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus: “This announcement represents another salvo in Donald Trump’s war on the rights of our country’s minorities and the vulnerable. A hateful ban on our brothers and sisters in the transgender community from serving in the military clearly creates a second class of citizens.
“Trans rights are human rights. The Constitution promises liberty to all to define and express their identity, but my Republican colleagues are doing nothing to stop the president as he tries to shred the Constitution, tweet by tweet. It is up to all of us to resist this attack on transgender rights and liberties, and as member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I stand shoulder to shoulder with the transgender community.
“An estimated 15,000 transgender men and women serve in the U.S. military today. Instead of honoring them, the president has demeaned their sacrifice. Sixty-nine years ago on this day, President Harry Truman took the historic step of desegregating the military and advancing the cause of equality. Today, President Trump – who hasn’t served a day in the military – is taking us back.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee: “Our country has always honored sacrifice and patriotism. Banning transgender Americans from serving in our military violates those values. Building a strong military that can preserve our nation’s security means recruiting and retaining the best and brightest Americans, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. We must continue fighting for equality for all.
“To ALL who serve: thank you for your sacrifice!”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “The president’s ban on transgender people openly serving in the military harms our national security and military, and is a direct insult to the 15,000 active and reserve transgender service members who risk their lives every day in the service of our country as well as the 134,000 transgender veterans who have served our country with honor and dignity.
“The military and numerous independent organizations have repeatedly shown that allowing transgender people to serve openly and honestly has no effect on force readiness and that any associated costs would be minimal. Today’s decision will have a detrimental effect on troop morale and military effectiveness.
“The president needs to make clear which ‘generals and military experts’ he consulted with before deciding to reverse the Pentagon’s standing policy, and I continue my call on the president and the Department of Defense to respect all service members.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “Absolutely appalling. Transgender service members put their lives on the line for this country every day and deserve our deepest respect. Banning individuals who want nothing more than to serve the country we all love only makes us less safe.”
Actor/activist George Takei responded with a series of tweets:
“History shall record that you are not only the stupidest, most incompetent president ever, but also the cruelest and pettiest.”
“Invidious discrimination against any group must be opposed by all. Straight/cis allies: Will you stand with LGBTs?”
“Trump is banning all transgenders from the military. To those who believed Trump would be a friend to LGBTs, time to admit you were conned.”
“Trump’s claim that the cost of trans servicemembers would be ‘tremendous’ is bunk. 2016 Rand study estimated the add’l care cost at $6 mil.”
“Donald: With your ban on trans people from the military, you are on notice that you just pissed off the wrong community. You will regret it.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, issued the following statement: “America is under assault from an administration that is determined to attack every civil and human right that millions of Americans have fought and died to obtain. We stand strong in the fight with LGBTQ people and all communities of color in refusing to allow the blatant discrimination and outright attacks on our civil rights by this administration.
“When President Obama signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law, Advancing Justice applauded the removal of this discriminatory ban on LGBTQ community members, including many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Yesterday, Trump dishonored those in service by attempting to denigrate the transgender service members who want the chance to serve and defend the very rights the administration is now trying to deny them.
“In the last 24 hours, we have been heartened by senators and representatives, senior military leadership, civil and human rights leaders, and people across the country and the world who denounced the administration’s latest act of hate. We call upon the Joint Chiefs of Staff to maintain their steadfast stance to refuse to change current military policy.
“We demand that the Trump Administration abandon this latest attempt at targeting and discriminating against the LGBTQ community.”