Mike Pence says he wants to ban trans people from the US military, again

Mike Pence

White House hopeful Mike Pence has said he wants to ban trans people from serving in the US military, as was the policy when he was Donald Trump’s vice-president.

Pence, who launched his presidential bid by denouncing life-saving healthcare for trans youth, spoke to reporters in Nevada on Saturday (29 July). 

He said that the thought of admitting people into the military who would require gender-affirming treatment or surgery “makes no sense,” according the Des Moines Register. 

“We have people of every background, of every race and creed and colour and persuasion in the military today,” he said. “But having transgender personnel, I believe, erodes unit cohesion in a unique way.”

Soon after taking office in January 2021, president Joe Biden used an executive order to lift Trump’s ban, with the Pentagon issuing revised guidelines in March. They went into effect one month later.

New provisions mean trans people are able to serve and enlist openly in their chosen gender, and the military carves out a pathway to allow them to transition while serving.

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But staunch Republican Pence said: “All this politically correct nonsense at the Pentagon is affecting recruitment in the United States military. We’ve got to get our military back to focusing on being the best-trained and the best-prepared in the world.”

Pence, who has consistently shown opposition towards the LGBTQ+ community during his political career, spoke out during a three-day campaign trip through the midwestern state of Iowa. 

The Republican primary is largely seen as a two-horse race between former president Trump and Ron DeSantis, but the governor of Florida has consistently polled lower than his rival.

Pence’s opposition to gender-affirming care for young people comes as the Human Rights Campaign has recorded more than 530 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in statehouses across the US so far this year.

More than 125 bills aimed at limiting gender-affirming care for trans youth have been introduced, with 16 already becoming law.