Congressman Pappas stands with transgender service members, members of Congress, and advocates to reject Trump Admin’s transgender military service ban

March 28, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Chris Pappas, Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus and first LGBTQ member of Congress from New Hampshire, participated in a press conference with transgender service members, members of Congress, and advocates following a vote in the House of Representatives rejecting President Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. The vote follows yesterday’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the transgender military ban to take effect on April 12.

Read the full remarks as written for delivery by Congressman Pappas:

Good afternoon.

Today we're here on behalf of more than 130,000 transgender veterans and 15,000 transgender active duty service members, several of whom are joining us here today.

Your nation is indebted to you for your service to our country.

The Trump Administration hopes to implement their ban on April 12th.

The ban insults the service of our veterans and will end the distinguished careers of those who wear the uniform of this country.

This is discrimination plain and simple; it's outrage that must be stopped.

Fitness to serve should not be determined by gender identity any more than it should be determined by sexual orientation, gender, race, or religion.

Telling a certain class of individuals that they are unwelcome, inferior, or less than is a fundamental injustice, and it's inconsistent with our American values.

We know from this country's not-so-distant past that so-called "unit cohesion" is a familiar excuse for discrimination.

Over the years, brave women, people of color, and LGBTQ Americans proved that excuse preposterous, and we must soundly reject it yet again.

My guest for the State of the Union, a man named Tavion Dignard, served honorably during Don't Ask Don't Tell but felt compelled to leave service because he felt unwelcome, unsupported, and unable to live his truth.

This country prides itself on having the best and brightest military in the history of the world.

If we are going to maintain it we need to allow the best and brightest to serve and create an environment in which they want to serve.

At a time when we face growing threats to our homeland and around the world, at a time when we must step up our military recruitment efforts, this ban is a threat to our military readiness and national security.

I hope Congress will do the right thing for our service members for our safety and security, for our shared values, and for our American patriots who deserve much better.

Let's put this military service ban where it belongs: in the ash heap of history.