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Defying Trump, Calif. National Guard Won't Discharge Trans Troops

National Guard won't discharge trans troops

One of the highest-ranking officers in the California National Guard told lawmakers on Tuesday that the state will not discharge transgender soldiers from its ranks — even as President Trump’s administration makes strides in doing so.

“As long as you fight, we don’t care what gender you identify as,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, who serves as assistant adjutant general for the California National Guard. "Nobody's going to kick you out.” he said. 

The official's remarks to the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee come only a month after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Trump’s ban on transgender service members can proceed while lower courts weigh its legality. 

Beevers believes that even with this ruling, the ban will never take effect, even stating, "I believe the ban (on transgender troops) will be lifted again.” The official went on to share that he personally knows at least two transgender airmen who serve in the National Guard, and assumes there are many others, but the agency doesn’t officially track numbers.

"At the end of the day, we're not compelled to measure it, so we don't," he told lawmakers.

An estimated 13,763 transgender service members currently face dismissal across the nation, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The Advocate reached out for comment from the California National Guard on how they plan to ignore any federal policy changes in the near future, but did not hear back at time of publishing.

Service members who have been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” will be grandfathered in and allowed to continue service if the ban comes into full-effect. Other active members who have medically transitioned at least three years prior to enlisting or who have no plans to transition medically while in service will also not be impacted.

Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, told The Advocate that just 937 transgender service members currently meet these exemptions that would clear them for service.

The ban was originally announced on Twitter in late-2017 and many states immediately filed suits challenging the ban — California being one of the first. Currently, an appeal in Maryland is the sole challenge delaying the Trump administration from fully enacting its new trans policies.

California civil rights organizations celebrated the bold statement from the official, saying it echoes their recent challenges to Trump.

“What the California National Guard said, and what we've said in our lawsuit, is that the military ought to treat them just like every other servicemember,” Samuel Garrett-Pate, communications director of Equality California, told The Advocate. The LGBTQ organization has worked with California attorney general Xavier Becerra to sue the president over his ban. 

“California will always champion the values of freedom, equality and fairness — even when the president fails to,” he continued.

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