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Transgender Service Ban Challenged by Leading Veterans Groups

Washington, DC (October 29, 2018) — Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading Post-9/11 veterans advocacy and support organization, joined an amicus brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on a case against the Trump Administration on its damaging, backward and un-American banning of transgender people serving in the armed forces. In partnership with Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), New York City Veterans Alliance, Protect Our Defenders, National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium (NLSVCC), and High Ground Veterans Advocacy, IAVA has submitted this amicus brief to express our strong objections to the policy put in place in July of 2017 that disenfranchises transgender people from serving in the military.

IAVA knows that equality is a force multiplier. The ban of transgender service members from our armed forces is detrimental to our national security, readiness and force retention. Categorical exclusion of any subset of our population, whether by gender, race or sexual orientation has always limited our military’s effectiveness. Banning transgender people from service will limit recruitment pools and bar qualified applicants from serving their country with distinction. It’s bad for our military and bad for America. Read the full amicus brief here.

“Barring transgender men and women from serving in the military is backward, harmful and contrary to American values. It’s also bad for national security. In an era when so few people step up to serve, no American who is willing and able to wear the uniform should be turned away. Equality is a force-multiplier for our military,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder. “Diversity makes our national security stronger and the facts back it up. Studies have confirmed that transgender troops are not only serving, but that their open service does nothing to harm readiness. IAVA will stand against the transban and any other attempts by any leader of any party to weaken our military, our veterans community or our nation,” continued Rieckhoff.

IAVA stands in support of our transgender troops and veterans–and in support of equality always. As a next-generation veteran empowerment, advocacy and support organization, IAVA is proud of its record of standing on the right side of equality issues. We’ve fought for historic change within the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DoD). IAVA supported the June 2016 announcement by DoD to allow transgender troops to serve openly without threat of discharge, and has called for an expansion of rights and services for LGBT troops, veterans and their families. For our generation of veterans especially, equality is a non-partisan pillar of strong national security and true American values.

IAVA will continue fighting to ensure that our nation maintains the best and most qualified force possible and that all veterans are properly honored by our nation and served by the VA. IAVA’s platform on promoting equality for all troops and veterans can be found on page 67 of our Policy Agenda here.

IAVA’s Big 6 Advocacy Priorities
In 2018, IAVA’s focus is on 6 priorities that our members see as most pressing from among our comprehensive Policy Agenda. This “Big 6” contains the challenges and opportunities that IAVA members care about most–and see as areas where we can uniquely make an impact. IAVA is building on our core four policy priorities from 2017 to elevate and introduce to the nation two long-standing issues that are extremely important to our community – toxic exposure and cannabis. IAVA members are poised to educate the public, design solutions for positive impact, and lead the way to the future—just as we have since our founding in 2004. Each campaign will drive toward outcomes in 4 key areas: 1) Public Awareness 2) Executive Action 3) Legislative Change 4) Local Support.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.