Talking About Trump's Ban on Trans Americans in the Military

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

In a series of tweets this morning, President Trump announced that “the United States Government will not accept or allow ... Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military.” My colleague Emma Green gives context:

Former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter had announced last June that transgender individuals would be able to serve openly in the military. He issued guidance for medical care for these soldiers—including those who transitioned during their service—as well as training military leaders. Since then, it has been the military’s policy not to discharge or deny reenlistment to service members based solely on their gender identity. The full policy was set to be implemented by July 1, 2017. But at the end of June, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced a six-month delay to review the plan, assessing whether it would hurt the “readiness or lethality” of American troops.

Back in March, Jenny Hall, a CIA officer, wrote about the support she received from her colleagues when she came out as trans, and how coming out improved her ability to serve her country:

No one cares that I’m trans. Defecting from Brooks Brothers to Ann Taylor had no impact on my ability to update the president on events overseas. In fact, without the fear of losing my clearance or exhaustion from pretending to be male, I became a better intelligence officer.

Migrating from man to woman, I learned the social codes of both camps, and was forced to confront my own prejudices and assumptions. Indeed, self-awareness, humility, and the courage to speak unpopular truths are core principles of intelligence tradecraft. I have been to war and changed genders; I don’t fear the next mission.

If you’re a veteran or active-duty service member, or a trans American who’s served or is serving in the military, we’d like to hear your story. Please email our reader inbox,, to share your experience, and let us know if you would like to remain anonymous.