WASHINGTON — Hours after the Supreme Court gave the green light to President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King was not ready to give up hope.
The ban “gives a false sense of credibility to the inaccurate notion that transgender people are somehow less or less capable than our peers,” King told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.
King has served in the military for 20 years, but it was not until recently that she was able to serve openly as a transgender woman.
“Transgender people have been serving in the military for as long as the United States has had a military,” King said. “We’ve done it in silence.”
“The problem is that this (ban) stops trans people from being able to bring their best self to work because they’re holding something back.”
The policy, first announced by the President in July 2017 via Twitter, and later officially released by then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis in 2018, blocks individuals who have been diagnosed with a condition known as gender dysphoria from serving with limited exceptions. It also specifies that individuals without the condition can serve, but only if they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth.
In a statement released after the Supreme Court action, the Pentagon sought to clarify that its policy is not a ban on all transgender persons from the military.
“As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. (The Department of Defense’s) proposed policy is NOT a ban on service by transgender persons. It is critical that DoD be permitted to implement personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world. DoD’s proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces remain the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world,” Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson, told CNN.
The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates that more than 15,000 transgender people are serving in the military, some openly, some not.
For King, the policy contradicts a key element in the military.
“It undermines that meritocracy we’re supposed to have in the military where we’re evaluated based on what we bring to the table and not who we are,” she said.
Tuesday’s ruling will certainly affect all transgender service members in some capacity, King said, but it doesn’t feel like a defeat.
“Implementing a ban again will not stop Americans from wanting to go serve their country, and some of those Americans happen to be transgender,” King said.