Senators Send Letter To Defense Secretary Urging Him To Ignore Ban On Trans Troops

Almost half the Senate signed on.

Forty-five senators have signed a letter directed to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis urging him to not instate Donald Trump's announced ban on transgender persons serving in the military. New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand penned the letter and quietly started collecting support from other senators during Thursday's health care debate.

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The letter, which was published Friday, asks that the review into trans members of the armed forces that Mattis announced last month be completed before any service men or women are discharged. The only non-Democratic senator to sign was Susan Collins from Maine. 

"We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it," the letter states. "Transgender Americans who serve in our military put their lives on the line to protect America. They make up a small percentage of the military population, but are reportedly twice as likely to serve in the military as other Americans."

The letter continues:

"Forcing these brave Americans out of our military would be cruel and discriminatory...Any American who wants to serve and meets the standards should be allowed to serve our country. Transgender service members are serving with honor and distinction today and we ask that you, as our Secretary of Defense, assure them that their service will not be ended simply because of who they are."

Trump announced the ban on Wednesday through a series of tweets. Since then, executives, activists and transgender veterans have come out against the policy. 

"We give every ounce of everything we have to this country," Shane Ortega, the first openly transgender soldier told MSNBC. 

At the time of publication, Mattis has not responded to the letter. Thursday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the country's highest-ranking military officer, sent a letter to leaders of the armed forces stating that there will be "no modifications" to current policies without further direction from the White House. 

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