In a pre-dawn announcement today, President Donald Trump said via Twitter that the United States military would no longer accept or allow transgender people to serve in any capacity.
The president said that the decision came after close consultation with his generals and military experts and that the “tremendous medical costs” and “disruption” that could come with transgender soldiers serving in the military cannot take away from the multiple branches’ focus from “decisive and overwhelming victory.”
The series of tweets were sent out just before 6:00AM and have set off a firestorm of rebuke from leaders—bipartisan in some cases—both locally and nationally.
Mayor Robert Garcia, the city’s first openly gay mayor, responded with his own round of early morning tweets in light of the pPresident’s announcement, defending the estimated thousands of transgender members of the US military.
We must fight for the rights of these brave Americans. They signed up to serve and now President wants to kick them out? Shameful. #Resist
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) July 26, 2017
“We must fight for the rights of these brave Americans,” Garcia tweeted. “They signed up to serve and now President wants to kick them out? Shameful. #Resist”
Representative Alan Lowenthal, who serves as the congressman for California’s 47th district which includes Long Beach, said that it’s become clear that Trump’s promise during his campaignthe to the LGBT community to fight for them has become a “fight to discriminate against you”.
“Clear now @POTUS is not an ally, nor even neutral on LGBT equality,” Lowenthal tweeted. “He is an opponent, plain and simple. We need to recog this fact.”
Last week Lowenthal became one of four Democrats named in a lawsuit filed by a man seeking to have the Pride flag removed from the halls of Congress. That same flag was reportedly thrown to the ground and trampled on by another man earlier this year.
A handful of Republican senators including John McCain (Arizona), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Joni Ernst (Iowa) also released statements against Trump’s tweets.
Trump’s alluding to medical costs are presumably tied to the idea that the military’s budget would take a hit in the form of having to pay for any gender reassignment surgery sought by a member of the US military. A previous ban on transgender persons serving in the military was lifted in June 2016.
A study put out that same year by the RAND Corporation estimated the total number of transgender and gender conforming personnel totaled somewhere between 1,320 and 6,630 persons, or less than one percent of active personnel. It also estimated that just a handful (between 95 and 460) of trans personnel per year would either seek transition, seek hormone therapy or surgical treatment. There are about 1.2 million active duty military members overall.
That translated to an increase of military medical spending by about $2.4 million to $8.4 million per year, according to the study. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the military currently spends about $84 million annually to treat erectile dysfunction. A bill boosting the Pentagon’s budget by $15 billion was approved in May.
At an October 30 rally in Colorado, Trump was pictured holding an LGBTQ pride flag with the words “LGBT for TRUMP” scrawled across it. Leaders in the LGBTQ community did not hold back Wednesday.
Porter Gilberg, executive director of the LGBTQ Center Long Beach, released a statement calling the president’s actions “disgusting, dehumanizing and demonstrative again of the current administration’s repeated assault on the LGBTQ community.”
“President Trump has made clear time and time again that he intends to eradicate gains made by the LGBTQ community in order to deflect attention away from his extreme agenda to upend legal protections improving the lives of millions of marginalized Americans. This is immoral,” Gilberg said. “The United States is now in the embarrassing position of upholding a discriminatory military policy rejected by more than a dozen closely allied countries.”
Gilberg said the Center certainly sees its share of active duty military and veterans that come in to use its services. He added that he personally knows active duty transgender soldiers and that his email inbox has been steadily filling up as news broke of the pPresident’s announcement. Gilberg said that the ramifications go far beyond beyond military service.
“We have a sitting President who has said that trans people are not equal to other people,” Gilberg told the Post. “This impacts every transgender person in the United States.”