Transgender troops remain welcome in Massachusetts National Guard

Gov. Charlie Baker's administration said it “will continue to support transgender Soldiers and Airmen."

The National Center for Transgender Equality, NCTE, and the Human Rights Campaign gather on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, for a #WontBeErased rally.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, NCTE, and the Human Rights Campaign gather on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, for a #WontBeErased rally. –The Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration said transgender people remain welcome in the Massachusetts National Guard despite President Trump’s restrictive policy on transgender people serving in the military.

The decision, which was announced in a letter from Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco on Tuesday, came about a month after more than 60 Massachusetts lawmakers asked Baker to reject the Trump administration’s controversial ban.

In his letter, Turco said the Baker administration “will continue to support transgender Soldiers and Airmen in serving our Commonwealth with dignity and respect.” Turco wrote:

The Massachusetts National Guard and the Baker-Polito Administration will continue to support transgender Soldiers and Airmen in serving our Commonwealth with dignity and respect. The Massachusetts National Guard served the interests of the Commonwealth and the Nation best with a military force that recruits and retains the most qualified people without regard to race, gender, color, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, or gender identity.

Each state’s National Guard falls under the command of its governor. The president, however, can also mobilize the Guard during emergencies.

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Massachusetts Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), Rep. Mindy Domb (D-Amherst), and Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro) all praised the Baker administration for its commitment.

“We hope that they keep to their word and actively work on behalf of Massachusetts residents to secure waivers from this misguided and malicious federal policy that ignores the advice of our top generals to suit President Trump’s whims,” Lesser said in a statement Wednesday.

Organizations such as GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders also commended the Governor’s office.

The statement also said Baker’s office will continue to endorse waivers and exceptions for those barred from federal service.

The Department of Defense’s new policy on transgender people in the military bars anyone who has “undergone either hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery for gender dysphoria” from serving in the military without a waiver.

The policy, which went into effect in April, also states that all service members must “meet the standards” of their biological sex — whether they’ve physically transitioned or not.

Anyone who was serving in the military before the new policy went into affect will remain under the less-strict 2016 policy’s rules, according to the Department of Defense.