The Japanese American Citizens League is deeply dismayed by the announcement by President Donald Trump that transgender people will be barred from serving in our military in any capacity.
This announcement is in direct contradiction to Defense Secretary James Mattis’ announcement less than a month ago that the Pentagon was seeking a six-month extension of time to analyze the policy and raises concerns for how this can and will be implemented.
We are concerned for the rights of those already serving and the potential infringements upon their civil rights.
Our community knows all too well the implications of a ban on military service. When more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II, we were also initially barred from serving in the military.
Even when service was opened to Japanese Americans, we served in segregated battalions, which also became among the most highly decorated during the war.
Among the 14,000 who served, nearly 9,486 Purple Hearts were awarded along with numerous other decorations and recognition, including the Medal of Honor.
In 2010, the Japanese American WWII veterans were bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal.
The lesson to be learned from our experience is that discrimination has no place in our armed services. Patriotism and the ability to serve our country is not limited to certain people, and the JACL supports those transgender individuals who desire to answer our nation’s call to service.
Founded in 1929, the JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States. The JACL monitors and responds to issues that enhance or threaten the civil and human rights of all Americans and implements strategies to effect positive social change, particularly to the Asian Pacific American community.
In 2015, the JACL National Council passed a resolution pledging to support “increased access, equity, and fair treatment of the transgender community” and “to be a vibrant ally to the transgender community.”