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Congressional Hearing Today On Transgender in U.S. Military

LGBTQ advocates say the military has not suffered in the more than three years since transgender troops were permitted to serve openly in the military. (Pamelaspoetry/Twenty20)
LGBTQ advocates say the military has not suffered in the more than three years since transgender troops were permitted to serve openly in the military. (Pamelaspoetry/Twenty20)
February 27, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Military experts and LGBTQ leaders will speak today at a hearing of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel about the service of transgender people in the military.

President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender military personnel in 2017, and last month the U.S. Supreme Court allowed that ban to go into effect while the matter is litigated. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 15,000 transgender people currently serve in the military, and there are 134,000 transgender veterans.

Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, a transgender woman and Navy supply chain officer, said the military should not reject the talents of many highly decorated people.

"Good leaders take a team and make it work. Great leaders mold their teams to exceed expectations," she said, "because it doesn't matter if you're female or LGBT. What matters is if each member is capable and focused on the mission."

The administration has claimed that allowing transgender people to serve decreases military readiness and increases health-care costs. However, studies have shown that readiness is unaffected and that the military spends much more money on Viagra than it does on gender-reassignment surgery.

More than three years ago, the Obama administration declared that transgender people could serve openly in the military. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis made an exception to the ban for those who already were serving openly or were willing to serve under their biological sex at birth.

Capt. Alivia Stehlik, a U.S. Army physical therapist and a transgender woman, said she found the vast majority of men and women in her brigade to be open and accepting.

"During my deployment to Afghanistan, as a trans woman, soldiers opened up to me, and I asked them why," she said. "And consistently, they answered that they valued my authenticity and my courage in being myself."

The litigation on the transgender ban is expected to take several years to resolve, and eventually could end up back before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MO