Transgender rabbi 'appalled' by Trump ban

Rona Matlow spent 22 years in the US Navy and worked as an engineer on its nuclear programme


A rabbi who served in US Navy has hit out at President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people from the military.

Rona Matlow, who is herself transgender, spent 22 years in the navy and worked as an engineer on its nuclear programme before being ordained as a rabbi after leaving the forces.

Two years ago, Rona, who was then called Jaron, began to address her gender dysphoria and decided to transition.

She told the Jewish Telegraph Agency she was “absolutely devastated and furious” about the ban, which Mr Trump announced on Twitter.  

She added: “Immediately I was very worried about the 15,000 active duty trans personnel that are currently serving in the military. I have talked to service members with 19-plus years of service who would be kicked out of the military without a pension.

“It costs well over a million dollars to train a pilot. Kicking these people out is incredibly more costly than keeping them in.

“Even if [the military] paid $30,000 for the surgery, they would have to pay a million dollars training a new pilot. That’s absurd.”

Ms Matlow, a life member of Jewish War Veterans of the USA, said she was “happy” to see that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joe Dunford, and Secretary of Defence James Mattis, maintained their support for all service personnel, despite Mr Trump’s Twitter statement on the transgender ban last Wednesday.

Mr Mattis, who was on vacation and caught off guard by the president’s tweets, was reportedly “appalled” by Mr Trump’s call for a ban.

“These tweets are ill-informed, ill-advised, and they were made without the backing or consultation of the Chiefs of Staff or Congress – such a policy has to be made with both of them,” said Ms Matlow.

Ms Matlow was ordained as a rabbi by the Academy for Jewish Religion and started volunteering as a chaplain for the veteran community after leaving the navy.

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