Former Air Force Sec. Deborah Lee James: "There is absolutely zero evidence that" trans service members harm readiness
Sec. James: Discharging trans soldiers who are serving honorably would be "a terrible detriment to the armed forces to our country"
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From the January 22 edition of MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson:
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HALLIE JACKSON (HOST): I want to get now on the phone, Paul, to somebody who is just joining us, Secretary Deborah Lee James, who served as the secretary of the Air Force under President Obama. Secretary, thank you very much for being with us. And I just want to get your reaction to the news that is developing this morning. Are you surprised?
DEBORAH LEE JAMES (FORMER AIR FORCE SECRETARY): I am surprised, Hallie. And I am disappointed is probably a better word to describe my reaction. I think it's unusual based on what I understand to be the case that the Supreme Court would have stepped in at this point before the lower courts have fully litigated and decided this matter and the decision itself, I think, is regrettable.
JACKSON: Can you talk through what this means, as Courtney Kube brought up, who reports on the Pentagon for us here at NBC news, what this means for people who are currently serving in the military openly. For these transgender folks who are in the military now, what happens to them?
JAMES: That's an excellent question and that is the first question I have. I'll tell you what I hope. I hope, I certainly hope, that the action taken in view of the Supreme Court's decision will not be to discharge those who are in uniform and who are serving honorably. That would be a terrible detriment to the armed forces and to our country. I hope that those people will be allowed to continue serving. I think the most likely outcome is that there will be a halt to new enlistments, and there will likely be a halt to medical transition-related care during this period where the matter is being further litigated. But to pick up on a point that was made earlier, this is such a shame. Because there is absolutely zero evidence that this is a harm that service of transgender individuals is a harm to readiness. We did a very thorough review. I was part of that review while I was serving in the Pentagon. There is zero credibility to that.