The Washington Post reports:
A bloc of 45 U.S. senators is asking the Pentagon not to discharge any transgender service members until the Defense Department completes an ongoing review of whether they should be able to continue serving in uniform. The letter holds no legal sway over the Pentagon and lawmakers cannot stop President Trump from carrying out his stated intention to ban transgender people from serving in uniform, but the letter puts almost half of the U.S. Senate on record as opposing the surprise announcement.
Despite Trump’s directive, issued in a series of tweets on Wednesday, the military’s highest-ranking officer said in a letter to senior military leaders Thursday that there would be “no modifications” to the current policy on transgender troops until further direction was received from the president. In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The letter from senators was written by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a member of the Armed Services Committee who focuses especially on personnel matters. Aides said it is intended to encourage Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to complete the review he has started to explore whether transgender people should be allowed to serve. The senators ask that “at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”
Via press release from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today led a bipartisan letter signed by 44 additional Senators to Secretary James N. Mattis urging him to advise the President against implementing the announcement he made via Twitter Wednesday that transgender Americans can no longer serve in the military. This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation.
“We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”
Senator Gillibrand was joined by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D- CT), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D- CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), Martin T. Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D- MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I- VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).