OLYMPIA — In a letter sent today, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and 18 attorneys general urge members of the United States Armed Services Committee to stand with transgender military service members and protect their right to serve.
The letter comes after tweets from President Donald Trump announced a change in policy on the issue, and as the National Defense Authorization Act works its way through Congress. The attorneys general call on Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), and Representatives Adam Smith (D-Washington) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), to add language to the bill explicitly stating transgender service members cannot be barred from service or discriminated against based solely on their gender identity.
An estimated 150,000 transgender individuals serve or have served in the military, including an estimated 15,500 currently serving, according to the Williams Institute.
The letter calls President Donald Trump’s policy reversal, announced yesterday in a series of tweets, “blatant gender discrimination.”
“It has no place in our Armed Services,” the attorneys general write. “It is an insult to the courageous transgender service members who hold vital roles in our military and continue to make tremendous sacrifices for our country. Transgender individuals are valued members of our communities. The new ban harms our States’ transgender residents and marginalizes an entire group of people based solely on gender identity. In addition to its constitutional infirmities, it is inconsistent with the laws and policies of many States, and with fundamental notions of fairness and equality.”
Ferguson has been an advocate for transgender rights. Last month, he lead a coalition of states in a “friend of the court” brief urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide transgender veterans access to medically necessary health care. He has also led a multistate coalition supporting the right of Virginia student Gavin Grimm to use the school bathroom corresponding to his gender identity, both before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Interim Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; firstname.lastname@example.org