This past August, President Trump ordered the military to stop allowing service members who openly identify as transgender to serve in the armed forces. The directive came as a surprise to Trump's own Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. He angered many veterans--among them, Tulsi Gabbard, who is a Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard and served two tours of duty in the Middle East.

Tulsi Gabbard considers military service to be an honor, and believes that all Americans are equally entitled to serve their country, no matter their race, religion, or sexual identity.

Following President Trump's decision to ban transgenders from military service, Gabbard said that "the only qualifications that should matter for those who want to serve is a commitment to uphold the Constitution, defend our country, and be capable and qualified to carry out their duties." Tulsi has consistently stood up for LGBT rights and marriage equality. As she puts it, her positions are rooted in the belief that "equal treatment and opportunity are fundamental rights for all Americans." Trump's ban, said Tulsi, "dishonors the thousands of transgender Americans who currently serve in the military."

There are as many as 15,000 transgender service members currently enlisted in the military who are serving honorably. There are transgenders on the front line, and transgenders who have died in service to our country. One can only imagine the shock and dismay of their loved ones at hearing the Commander-in-Chief express disdain for them despite such incredibly selfless service and sacrifice.

With less than 1% of the US population voluntarily raising their hand to serve in uniform, those brave individuals who identify as transgender and are willing to place their lives on the line for their country deserve the same respect and acknowledgement as any other soldier, airman, coastie, sailor, or marine.

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