The NDP is calling on the Canadian government to condemn US President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people from serving in the military.
Randall Garrison, the NDP’s critic for defence and LGBT issues, says that the issue of transgender people serving in the armed forces is important to the military cooperation between Canada and the United States.
“I think it’s very important to let them know we have transgender Canadians serving in our military and we expect them to be treated with dignity and respect at all times,” he says. “And there’s doubt about that when transgender Americans are being kicked out of the US military.”
Although Trump announced on Twitter that the US government wouldn’t allow transgender people to serve in the military, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff confirmed that until formal guidance has been issued by the secretary of defence, transgender people can still serve.
The Canadian government has not commented on Trump’s proposal.
“Trans people have been able to serve openly in the Canadian Armed Forces since 1992,” wrote Jordan Owens, a spokesperson for Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan, in a statement to Xtra. “Our position on their valuable service in the Canadian military has not changed.”
Garrison believes that the Trudeau government must speak out against discrimination against trans people.
“If the government claims [it’s] making a priority of LGBT rights, then we have to stand up against discrimination where we see it, even when it’s our closest ally,” he says.
While many Canadian allies allow transgender people in the military, some, including North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries like Italy, Poland, Greece and Turkey do not.
According to Canadian Armed Forces guidelines obtained by VICE News, the military must provide reasonable accommodation to any trans service members who wishes to transition, including providing medical support.
On the same day that Trump tweeted that transgender troops would be barred from the military, the Canadian Forces Twitter account tweeted out support for LGBT people.
— Canadian Forces (@CanadianForces) July 26, 2017