NJ Army National Guard will defy Trump’s ban on trans military service members

Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino with Phil Murphy. Photo by Caroline Novack.
Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino with Phil Murphy. 2017 file photo by Caroline Novack.

Governor Murphy orders New Jersey to Protect trans National Guard members

Governor Phil Murphy issued an order on Friday to exercise every available option of power to allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the New Jersey Army National Guard. The executive action comes in defiance of the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender service members, which took effect on April 12, 2019.

Under previous state administrations, swift action, or any action at all, would have been unlikely without public pressure. New Jersey now joins five other states that have taken action: California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and New Mexico. Governors have primary control over National Guard policy for their state.

Governor Phil Murphy and GSE's Christian Fuscarino
Governor Phil Murphy and GSE’s Christian Fuscarino at a Garden State equality event in 2017

“Since the Trump-Pence administration’s ban on transgender service members went into effect last month, this disgraceful policy is already wreaking havoc. We’ve seen college students lose their military scholarships, countless recruits be turned away, and the jobs and healthcare of nearly 15,000 active and reserve transgender service members at risk of being terminated,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality.

Given the Governor’s commitment to LGBT equality, Garden State Equality was able to work closely with his office to develop implementation. “Governor Murphy’s bold action today to protect transgender troops serving in the New Jersey Army National Guard is a critical defense against the President’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban,” saio Fuscarino. “It means brave transgender public servants can get back to work defending our nation without fear of being discharged.“

“President Trump’s policy targeting transgender individuals who wish to serve in our military is abhorrent and un-American,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “I am proud to join with Governors in sister states, including California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, in declaring firm opposition to this policy and announcing my intention to use every option available to allow transgender individuals to serve in the National Guard. Under my administration, New Jersey has joined the multi-state coalition that has urged the courts to strike down the transgender ban as unconstitutional, and we will continue to fight this bigoted policy and defend the rights of all New Jersey residents.”

In February 2018, under the leadership of Governor Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey also joined a coalition of states to overturn the ban with an amicus filing in federal court in the case Ryan Karnoski v. Trump. Various litigation is pending throughout the federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court is anticipated to hear a case in the coming months.

The Trump administration’s ban affects as many as 15,000 active and reserve transgender service members across the nation. Individuals who come out — or are found out — as transgender after April 12 will be subject to discharge unless they renounce their identity. A few hundred service members who previously transitioned before the April 12 deadline are permitted to continue to serve. Under the Trump administration’s policy, no future recruits who are transgender will be permitted to enlist in the military. The policy has additionally resulted in transgender college students from losing military scholarships.