Election 2024

Donald Trump says generals secretly supported his trans military ban in bizarre speech

Donald Trump
Donald Trump Photo: Screenshot

When Donald Trump tweeted his ban on transgender people serving openly in the military in July 2017, it appeared to many that he announced it on a whim without actually consulting the military to see if there was a reason to implement such a policy. He tweeted that he had consulted “with my Generals and military experts,” but, considering how the leaders of all four branches of the U.S. military publicly said that there were no problems with transgender people serving in the military, it seemed unlikely Trump had actually consulted with the people that he should have.

Now Trump is saying that he consulted generals but that he had to do so secretly because they were too scared to say their real opinions publicly. He told this bizarre story as he announced his support for reinstating the transgender military ban, which President Joe Biden’s administration repealed in 2021.

“I’ll also restore the Trump ban on transgender in the military,” he said at a campaign event, getting cheers. “We had it banned, we had it banned.”

“You know, I went to generals, I say, ‘General, off the record, what do you think of transgender?'” Trump said

“‘Sir, uh, is anybody listening, sir?'” Trump said in a cartoonish voice of what he thinks a general would sound like.

“What do ya think?”

“‘Uh, I don’t like it, sir!'” he claimed the unnamed generals told him.

“And then I’d say to another one- You know, they were all afraid to talk about it, but, you know, I had to do what’s right,” he said, effectively calling U.S. military generals cowards and saying he was the only person who could do “what’s right.”

The story comes years after various lawsuits against the Trump administration demanded to know what process Trump went through in setting the trans military ban, since laws that deny people equal rights or due process can only be justified if the government can show that it has a reason to implement them.

In October 2017, over 100 House Democrats sent a letter to the White House asking for proof that Trump had “senior military or Department of Defense personnel” tell him they wanted a transgender military ban before he announced it.

“If the Department has records of any other discussions that might have justified the president’s claim, we request to see those materials, as well,” they wrote at the time. “We seek access to these materials in order to determine whether the president, his national security team, and military leaders are actively coordinating policy with one another, or whether the president’s transgender ban announcement reflected a breakdown in communication.”

The Trump administration instead released a separate report to justify the transgender military ban with help from hate group activists, an initiative rumored to have been led by Mike Pence.

The idea that most people secretly agree with conservatives but are too afraid to say so in public contradicts the experiences of many progressives and LGBTQ+ people and is often brought up to justify why experts often disagree with conservative policy initiatives.

This is particularly true when it comes to transgender equality issues. Because experts often vociferously disagree with right-wing policies, conservatives claim that there are many experts who agree with them privately and are too afraid to express themselves publicly out of fear that a tiny, politically and economically disadvantaged, and oppressed minority will disagree with them.

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