Trump Bans Transgenders From Military Service

Update 15:37 ET: A report in Poltico claims that this ban is all about money in the budget for the border wall. When anti-trans Republicans from the House told Trump they would hold up funding for the border wall unless he banned Transgender people from the Military, Trump, obviously, didn’t hesitate.

In the middle of the battle to repeal, replace or just flat out destroy the Affordable Care Act, Trump took to twitter this morning announcing that he was banning Transgender people from military service. Citing out of date data, he reasoned that the “medical costs and disruption” would be too great.

Trump claims he made the move after consulting with military experts, despite the Pentagon lifting the ban on transgender service members in 2016 after an exhaustive review of its military readiness policies.

“Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said. “We have to have access to 100% of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.”

The biggest question is what the news means for the thousands of transgender men and women currently serving in the military. There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people in active military service, a Rand Corp. study estimates. Another group, the Palm Center, put the number as high as 15,500 a few years ago.

The Pentagon referred all questions about the change to the White House.

The news took everyone off guard but the reaction was swift and angry, and not from just Democrats.

As expected, many Democrats swiftly condemned Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning. Yet several Republican lawmakers, including those with military experience, quickly expressed their opposition as well, demonstrating bipartisan interest in the issue.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, was one of the last to support overturning “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” which previously banned openly LGBTQ people from serving in the military. But in a statement Wednesday, he argued against Trump’s ban, saying that anyone who is qualified to serve should be allowed to do so. [..]

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), an Iraq War veteran, expressed similar opposition.

“Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity,” she said in a statement. [..]

“I’m all about training standards. High, high standards for whoever joins the military,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who served in the Marines, told HuffPost. “But my initial reaction is, if you can can meet those standards, we shouldn’t care who you are. So, meet the standards, and you should be able to join the military.”

Upon hearing of Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said that current policy allows for “a big tent for people who want to serve,” adding that military service is voluntary.

“You ought to treat everybody fairly, and you ought to give everybody a chance to serve,” he told CNN.

In a statement, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said: “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”

Army PVT Chelsea Manning, transgender activist and U.S. military whistleblower, shot back at Trump in a series of tweets. As did Star Trek‘s George Takei who called out those members of the LGBTQ community who supported Trump.

This ban comes on the anniversary of the desegregation of the military by President Harry Truman.