McCain Challenges Transgender Military Ban

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has joined a bipartisan effort to challenge President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender troops.

McCain, an outspoken critic of the President within the GOP, announced in a statement Friday that he supports the challenge because “we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country.”

McCain joins fellow senator and ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed (D-RI), as well as Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in opposing the transgender ban, both of whom serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Gillibrand-Collins effort is legislation seeking to halt the President’s plan and protect transgender troops.

McCain’s support will have put some urgency behind the legislation, alongside Reed’s, however it is uncertain if the legislation will receive a full Senate vote. McCain, an influential voice in military issues, had been uncertain about supporting the Gillibrand-Collins effort because the ban had not gone into effect.

In July, Trump announced through Twitter that transgender troops would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, citing medical costs. Last month, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced he would conduct a six-month review before placing the order into effect. Under the President’s plan, Mattis would have until Feb. 1 to conduct his review.

However, under the Senate bill, Mattis’ review deadline would be sped up to the end of the year, the military would be prohibited from discharging currently serving transgender troops and would express Congress’ conviction that anyone who is qualified to serve should be allowed to serve, regardless of gender identity.

Dr. Ann Burnett, director of women and gender studies at North Dakota State, expresses hope in McCain’s opposition to the ban. “Because many people view McCain as a role model, he can have a great deal of positive influence on American perspectives, especially since McCain was a war hero,” Burnett said.

However, regarding the future of the proposed ban, Burnett expresses some uncertainty, “It’s hard to say. McCain seems to speak for many people, both Republicans and Democrats, but Trump hasn’t spoken favorably about McCain, and the ‘transgender in the military’ decision seems to address his 30 (percent) core, so probably not much effect. In addition, Trump seems to dig in his heels,” Burnett said.

There are numerous reasons for which the ban might stay in effect, and numerous reasons why it won’t.

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