Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Thursday implored members of Congress to resist any effort by the White House to move forward with a proposed ban on transgender troops serving in the military, saying it didn’t matter whether a soldier was “gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown,” and that such a measure would be “disruptive” and “counterproductive.”
“When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind,” Duckworth said in the statement, nearly identical to a previous one issued back in July when Trump first announced the ban.
Duckworth called on members from both parties to oppose the legislation. “If the President enacts this ban, which would harm our military readiness, the Democratic and Republican Members of Congress who oppose this discrimination must enact legislation that prevents it from taking effect,” she said.
Duckworth, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, lost both of her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade shot down the helicopter she was piloting over Iraq in 2004. She previously called the ban “sickening” given reports that Trump had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War.
The proposed ban, which Trump announced on Twitter in July, came to the surprise of both lawmakers and military officials, several of whom publicly criticized the proposal. The White House has reportedly made preparations to coach the Pentagon on the policy’s implementation, which has drawn bipartisan backlash.
Duckworth said that anyone fit to serve should be allowed to. “Anything else is not just discriminatory, it is disruptive to our military, and it is counterproductive to our national security,” she said.