Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Times Square protest

Critics of President Donald Trump's efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military protested in New York City's Times Square in 2017. (Photo: Jere Keys/Flickr/cc)

With Rollout of New Rules, Trump Admin Signs Off on 'Purge' of Trans Troops

"In addition to being unlawful, moving forward with this ban is also deeply immoral and deeply insulting to the many transgender troops who are bravely serving their country."

Jessica Corbett

The Trump administration on Tuesday took a major step to bar transgender troops from the U.S. military, kick-starting a constitutionally dubious "purge" with a new set of rules sure to continue its drawn out battle over the policy in federal courts.

"The Trump administration is built on demonizing minority groups; reversing the civil rights gains of immigrants, people of color, women, and the LGBTQ movement will forever remain the hallmarks of their time in office."
—Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE

"The start of this looming purge represents an unprecedented step backward in the social and civil progress of our country and our military," Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), said in a statement.

President Donald Trump initially announced a ban on trans troops with a series of tweets in 2017—signaling his intention to reverse a policy implemented under former President Barack Obama in 2016 that was praised by much of the LGBTQ community.

Trump's attempts to expel trans people from service and block them from enlisting sparked legal challenges, but in January, the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority gave the green light for the administration to pursue its "bigoted" and "cruel" effort while fights in court continue.

"The Trump administration is built on demonizing minority groups; reversing the civil rights gains of immigrants, people of color, women, and the LGBTQ movement will forever remain the hallmarks of their time in office," Tobin said, calling on Congress to block the policy.

Aaron Belkin is the director of the Palm Center, a think tank that has conducted research on trans people serving in the military. With these rules, he said, "the Trump administration has chosen prejudice and politics over the truth of open service as revealed by the testimonies of dozens of medical and military leaders and the service and sacrifice of 14,700 transgender service members."

Despite ongoing litigation, the second-in-command at the Defense Department signed off on a memo (pdf) detailing the administration's official rules. As of April 12, transgender service members and new applicants only can serve under their "biological sex," effectively forcing them to conceal their gender identity or leave the military.

New applicants with gender dysphoria—a medical diagnosis for someone who experiences distress tied to the difference between the gender they were assigned at birth and the gender they believe themselves to be—are "presumptively disqualified" (pdf), as are those with a history of medical transition treatment—specifically, cross-sex hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery.

Current service members who joined the military in their preferred gender or are diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the Trump administration's policy takes effect are exempt from the new rules. Under the Pentagon's policy, waivers may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

"In addition to being unlawful, moving forward with this ban is also deeply immoral and deeply insulting to the many transgender troops who are bravely serving their country."
—Jennifer Levi, GLAD

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) are among the groups who have taken the administration to court over the trans troop ban and other anti-LGBTQ policies.

"With brazen disregard for the judicial process, the Pentagon is prematurely and illegally rolling out a plan to implement the ban when a court injunction remains in place prohibiting them from doing so," noted Jennifer Levi, GLAD's Transgender Rights Project director. "In addition to being unlawful, moving forward with this ban is also deeply immoral and deeply insulting to the many transgender troops who are bravely serving their country."

NCLR legal director Shannon Minter vowed to "continue our fight in the courts until the ban is permanently blocked," but also called on Congress to take swift action and urged "everyone who cares about the integrity of our military and the well-being of our troops to contact your representatives and tell them to support this legislation."

This post has been updated with a link to the Pentagon memo and details from the directive.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Corporate Dems of US Senate Blamed as GOP Texas Governor Approves 'Rigged' Voting Maps

"We must protect our democracy with federal legislation immediately and defeat these cynical politicians at the ballot box."

Jessica Corbett ·


'An Act of Cowardice': 21 Israel-Based Groups Condemn Terror Label for Palestine NGOs

The organizations called the designation "a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work."

Brett Wilkins ·


The Facebook Papers Spur More Calls to 'Break Them Up!'

Other critics are demanding a "full, independent, outside investigation" of the tech titan as whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies to the U.K. Parliament.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is an Emergency': Oxfam Says Rich Nations' $100 Billion Climate Pledge Not Good Enough

"Time is running out for rich nations to build trust and deliver on their unmet target."

Andrea Germanos ·


Progressives Vow to 'Push Very Hard' to Keep Agenda From Being Gutted Beyond Recognition

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said House Democrats "are fighting to tackle the climate crisis, expand Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing, and guarantee family leave in America."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo