Colorado will defy the Trump administration's ban on transgender troops serving in Colorado National Guard units, joining five other states that are refusing to comply with the new Pentagon policy, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jared Polis told Colorado Politics.
"The governor believes that excluding perfectly capable service members simply because of their gender identity makes us weaker. He has no intention of enforcing such an archaic rule," said Shelby Wieman, Polis' deputy press secretary.
The military began implementing a ban on most transgender service members last month following an April 12 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that paves the way to enforce an order President Donald Trump issued nearly two years earlier in a series of tweets.
Officials in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state have said their states' National Guard units won't comply with the ban, which prohibits service by troops and cadets who have undergone transition therapy or are seeking gender reassignment.
National Guard units are generally under the control of governors, not the federal government.
Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, the assistant adjutant general of the California National Guard, told The Hill soon after the new policy went into effect that his troops' gender identity "is the least of our concerns."
Beevers said commanders "intend to exercise every available avenue inside the policy and out, to ensure transgendered people who want to serve the California National Guard are afforded the opportunity to serve.”
A spokeswoman for the Colorado National Guard said she was unaware of any changes in policy.
The Colorado National Guard, which mobilizes for overseas deployment and responds to disasters and major events in Colorado and the surrounding region, counts more 5,300 uniformed service members.
It encompasses the Colorado Army National Guard and the Colorado Air National Guard. Another 1,600 adult and cadet members of the Civil Air Patrol and about 150 civilian state employees also fall under the umbrella of the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Including territorial militias, the Colorado National Guard has been in existence for 159 years — longer than Colorado has been a state.
The Air Force Academy announced on April 21 that it will begin implementing the ban starting with this year's crop of new cadets, who arrive in late June, The Gazette reported.
Trump's order reversed an Obama administration policy that abolished a longstanding ban on transgender service members in 2016. It's still facing other legal challenges, including lawsuits seeking to overturn the ban on civil rights grounds.
"I applaud his sentiment and statement of support for the transgender community and for realizing that transgender soldiers play an important role in the defense of Colorado and the United States," she told Colorado Politics Thursday.
The General Assembly for the first time formally honored transgender veterans and service members at the legislature's Military Appreciation Day on Feb. 1.
Titone said she met about a dozen transgender troops and veterans who responded to her invitation to attend the annual event.
"They're very capable, dedicated people who want to serve their country, and they are being moved aside," she said after she learned of Polis' position.
"I don't think it's right to disallow anybody who wants to serve their country and is capable of doing so. There is nothing that says a transgender person is not capable of serving."
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to clarify the relationship between the Colorado National Guard and the Civil Air Patrol, which both fall under the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.