A Republican Staffer Told Progressive Activists “No One Cares” About Trans Troops

The apology came 2 days later.

Dea/M. Borchi/Getty Images

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

With President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban set to begin on April 12, advocacy groups have mobilized in a long-shot attempt to block the policy from going into effect, using petitions and social media to gin up support. Last Friday, CREDO Action, the political arm of progressive phone company CREDO Mobile, sent one of these petitions, which lambasted Trump’s policy as a “direct assault on the LGBTQ community” to hundreds of lawmakers, including freshman Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD).

“No one cares,” Johnson’s office replied.

CREDO Action

Josh Nelson, CREDO Action’s co-director, told Mother Jones the group was “shocked” by the response. “Republicans do things that we disagree with strongly all the time,” he said. “We’ve never seen this type of response before.”

Two days after replying to the group’s original email, the congressional staffer who wrote the brusque response followed up with an apology. “I am writing to express my sincerest apologies for my email on Monday, April 1, 2019,” the response read. “It should not have been said and is in no way reflective of the views of Congressman Johnson or myself.” (The staffer did not return a request for comment from Mother Jones.) 

The estimated 14,700 transgender service members have been living under a cloud of uncertainty since Trump tweeted in July 2017 that transgender individuals could not “serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

The implementation of the directive was slow-walked by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis. After his departure in December, and after several legal obstacles to the policy were cleared earlier this year, the Defense Department released an official directive effective April 12 that requires most service members to adhere to the gender assigned to them at birth. Pentagon officials have insisted the new policy “doesn’t ban transgender individuals from service,” but advocates sharply dispute that notion. “If you’re transgender and are being forced to live in your birth sex, you have to directly deny who you are,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Mother Jones last month. 

House Democrats passed a largely symbolic measure condemning the ban last month. “There is no moral justification for this ban, which violates every value of our American democracy,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. Johnson, who serves as South Dakota’s at-large representative, voted against the non-binding resolution.

Mother Jones is reporting on how transgender members of the military are being affected by the Pentagon’s new ban. Are you a trans service member applying for a waiver? How are you and your loved ones dealing with this shift in policy? Let us know how the Pentagon’s transgender military ban affects you. Fill out the form below, send us an email at talk@motherjones.com, or leave us a voicemail at (510) 519-MOJO. We may use some of your responses in a follow-up story.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate