New Democrats are pushing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to publicly condemn Donald Trump's move to bar transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military, a decision the party's defence critic says is based on "ignorance and hate."
"Prime Minister Trudeau must denounce this policy immediately in order to demonstrate that Canada not only respects human rights but that we will stand up against discrimination, even when the source is our closest neighbour and strongest ally," Randall Garrison said in a statement Wednesday.
Garrison, who also serves as the NDP critic for LGBTQ issues, said the Trump administration is using hate to target one group of citizens.
"We have seen this sort of state-sponsored discrimination too many times before. It is wrong and must be called out," he said.
Garrison said in the release that such a ban would only weaken military cohesion.
"Transgender people who are currently in the military and those who wish to serve are, in many ways, the bravest of the brave."
Garrison urged Trudeau to speak out against the "despicable directive" and explore how Canada can open its doors "to any Trans American who wishes to leave this discrimination behind them."
HuffPost Canada reached out to Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, Trudeau's special adviser on LGBTQ issues, for the government's response. A spokesperson for Boissonnault told HuffPost via email that all questions on the matter should be directed to the Department of National Defence.
Trump claims to have consulted experts
Earlier Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to announce trans Americans would no longer be allowed to serve the military "in any capacity."
He claimed to have made that decision after consultation with unnamed "generals and military experts."
"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," Trump wrote.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later told reporters Trump's national security team consulted him on the move.
"This was a decision about military readiness," she said, denying it was a betrayal of the LGBTQ community.
The Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender service members in June 2016.
There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people in active military service, estimates a study from non-profit global think tank Rand Corp. Another group, the Palm Center, put the number as high as 15,500 a few years ago.
Rand Corp. data also suggests Trump is wrong to cite the "tremendous medical costs" of trans military members as a reason for the ban. According to the group's estimates, up to 140 people would seek hormone treatments per year, and up to 130 would pursue transition-related surgeries.
Trump, who reportedly avoided the draft five times during the Vietnam War, had pledged during the U.S. election campaign to be a better ally of the LGBTQ community than his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2016
On Wednesday, the official Twitter page of the Canadian Armed Forces released a call for Canadians of all sexual orientations and gender identities to join them.
With files from HuffPost U.S.'s Jennifer Bendery
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