Five States Say They'll Let Trans Troops Serve in National Guard

National Guard troops

Governors of five western states say they’ll defy Donald Trump’s transgender military ban and allow trans troops to serve in National Guard units, which are largely under state control.

Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have joined California and New Mexico in announcing they intend to let trans troops continue to serve, The Daily Beast reports. California made its position known in February and reiterated it recently, and New Mexico did so over the weekend; the other three states confirmed their stances in a Daily Beast story published today. All the states are governed by Democrats.

The ban went into effect April 12 after all court injunctions blocking it were lifted, although lawsuits against it are still being heard. The ban prevents transgender people from serving in the military unless they are willing to serve in the gender to which they were assigned at birth. It does allow for some waivers.

But governors have primary control over National Guard troops, a portion of the U.S. military reserves deployed to deal with domestic crises, such as natural disasters, as well as overseas conflicts. That means governors can challenge the policy to some degree.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told the Beast she is “appalled that the Supreme Court is delivering an intentional blow to civil rights by supporting a push from the Trump administration to bar transgender people from serving in the military,” referring to the high court’s action in lifting two of the four injunctions.

“I will use every option available to ensure that every eligible Oregonian, regardless of gender identity, can serve their state and country,” she added.

“The State of Nevada does not discriminate against anyone, including and especially service members, based on gender identity or expression,” Helen Kalla, communications director for Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, told the Beast. “Governor Sisolak believes the only criteria to serve in the Nevada National Guard is one’s readiness to serve.”

And a spokesman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told the publication the state “will continue to welcome transgender service members to the greatest extent possible under the rules.”

It’s not exactly clear how these states will manage to get around the ban. Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, assistant adjutant general for the California National Guard, recently told The Hill that he believes trans service members can be accommodated through exceptions and waivers. It’s also not clear how the Department of Defense will deal with states that defy the policy, notes the Beast, which did not receive a response from military officials by the time of publication.

Advocates for trans service members welcomed the state support, in any case. “SPART*A supports any and all organizations, including military organizations, that stand against discrimination and encourage the best and the brightest to serve our nation,” SPART*A communications director B Fram told the Beast. “[These states] and the nation will benefit from retaining, and hopefully accessing, all who are qualified, regardless of gender identity.”

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