President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement - on Twitter - that transgender men and women will no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces has ignited a firestorm of controversy.
U.S. Air Force Veteran Dennis Cain of Bowling Green says the president’s decision signals a step backward - to more of the type of discrimination he experienced as a gay man in the military.
Cain served for eight years during the 1980s. He was a medic and with an F-16 fighter squadron for four of those years. Cain says he had to keep his personal life as a gay man hidden, and it discouraged him from having a longer career in the Air Force.
“I was in before the time of 'Don’t ask, Don’t tell.' At that point in time, there were actually active programs trying to go undercover and find out who the gay people were in the military. If you were caught in one of those stings, you were often discharged with a less than honorable discharge. With the president’s action he’s taken, it looks like he’s trying to start moving things back.”
Cain says discriminating against transgender people in the military will have a chilling effect on anyone in the LGBT community who wants to serve, and will have a negative impact on recruiting and retention.
“In the military specifically, you’re starting to tell certain populations that no matter what you do, you’re not worthy of serving.”
Trump’s pronouncement has also created confusion. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, said on July 27 that all military personnel must treated with respect until there is clarification from the president and the secretary of defense.