For immediate release:
LGBTQI Democratic Clubs of Contra Costa, Alameda, and Solano County Respond to Trump Tweets Banning Transgender Military Service
Concord, CA July 28, 2017: This week, President Trump issued several statements via Twitter banning transgender people from serving in the military. “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,” President Trump wrote.
The Lambda Democratic Club of Contra Costa County convened a special board meeting in response to the administration’s reversal of the Obama Administration’s 2016 policy allowing transgender service members to openly serve in the military. The Lambda Democratic Club board voted unanimously to take immediate action with its membership throughout Contra Costa County to combat this reversal in policy and to advocate within the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County and the California Democratic Party, including the Veterans Caucus and the LGBT Caucus.
In a joint statement with the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club and the Stonewall Democratic Club of Solano County, the three Bay Area Democratic clubs called on President Trump to disavow his statements and work towards promoting an inclusive military. The Bay Area clubs will be working with its membership and other local clubs, government offices, and organizations to help identify transgender service members who may need legal assistance or support services in response to this policy change.
“The statements issued by President Trump diminishes the contributions of transgender Americans who have taken an oath in defense of our nation,” said Robyn Kuslits, Vice President of Lambda Democratic Club, a Veteran of the United States Navy, and a transgender woman. “Our military readiness is dependent on maintaining the highest levels of inclusion, ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to serve,” she said.
“I have served with transgender service members and have seen first-hand how allowing them to serve openly has positively impacted their ability to contribute to the mission,” said Shawn Kumagai, Secretary of Lambda Democratic Club and a serving member of the United States Navy Reserve. “Some of them have had a long and distinguished career and are nearing retirement eligibility. It’s unjust and disruptive to strip that away from them now.”
It is still uncertain how this recent policy change will affect the thousands of transgender service members currently serving in our military, but Democratic club members worry that this signals a reversal towards the days of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” According to a 2016 study commissioned by the Department of Defense, the number of transgender service members serving in the active component is between 1,320 and 6,630 out of a total of about 1.3 million service members.
“The President has created an issue where there was none. Our armed forces were actively integrating transgender service members,” said George Perezvelez a Navy Veteran and a member of the executive board of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club. “This is a plain and simple act of bigotry and hate,” he said.
Brenda Crawford, Chair of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Solano County said, “Never before has it been more important for the LGBT community to organize for the midterm election than this upcoming 2018 cycle. We need to send a resounding message that we will not allow the Republicans and Trump to separate the LGBT communities. We stand in Solidarity with our Trans brothers and sisters and any politician who threatens to take our hard fought rights away will be challenged, held accountable, and ultimately defeated.”
This news comes on the anniversary of integrating the US Military. On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed an executive order to racially integrate the military.
“Our Country cannot go backwards, we must continue the fight forward for equality for everyone. Trump is wrong,” said Lambda Democratic Club President, Cesar Zepeda. “Our transgender service members protect and serve our country with honor and they are putting their lives on the line for the freedom every American enjoys, regardless of their gender or who they love. Standing together we will continue fighting for everyone in our community.”
Press Release Contact: Cesar Zepeda, President, Lambda Democratic Club of Contra Costa County, firstname.lastname@example.org.