On the anniversary of President Harry S. Truman’s desegregation of the military, July 26, 1948, President Donald Trump announced that he would ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. It was a reversal from the June 2016 decision President Barack Obama made to allow transgender service members to serve openly.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.
It was an announcement met with condemnation from pro-Democratic LGBT groups and their allies. City officials in Wilton Manors also responded by flying the transgender and LGBT flags.
“I condemn the President’s decision to exclude all transgender persons from military service. Transgender persons are citizens of the U.S., pay taxes, support their communities and serve with distinction in the military. President Trump’s decision to exclude all such persons from the military flies in the face of what this country stands for and is not based on anything other than bigotry and misunderstanding. It is apparent that this President does not represent me nor my community,” said Mayor Gary Resnick in a statement released by the city.
Scott Herman, president of the Dolphin Democrats, said that the ban of transgender individuals is being wrongly justified in the same ways as the previous ban on gay and lesbian service members.
“So far the only disruption has been on the basis of religious discrimination. We already have transgender service members and the President is totally disregarding the lives of LGBT service members. As an Army disabled combat veteran I view his actions as appalling. President Trump even received a medical deferment that got him out of military service while others were in the ditches and fields. The President has zero understanding of our military.” Herman also accused Trump of not understanding “the extraordinary courage of the service members that put their lives on the line for us every day.”
Several Republican officials, including U.S. Senator John McCain, also criticized Trump’s decision. “Any American who meets current medical & readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,” wrote McCain on Twitter.
The national Log Cabin Republicans organization also weighed-in.
In a statement, Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo labeled Trump’s tweets as “politics, pure and simple” and that the military is already comprised of transgender individuals who risk their lives to defend the United States. “Excommunicating transgender soldiers only weakens our readiness; it doesn’t strengthen it. The president’s statement this morning does a disservice to transgender military personnel and reintroduces the same hurtful stereotypes conjured when openly gay men and women were barred from service during the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ era. As an organization that led the charge against that hateful policy, Log Cabin Republicans remains equally committed to standing up for transgender military personnel who put their lives on the line to keep us free.”
Andy Eddy, a spokesperson and founding member of the Broward Log Cabin Republicans, said he doesn’t fully understand the issues facing transgender military personnel. He stated that he wouldn’t want anyone joining the military just to have their medical procedures paid for, but said he was unaware of any specific cases of someone doing so.
“I have compassion for the situation but I don’t understand it.” In general though, he said he supports transgender individuals serving in the military. “I think they should be allowed to stay in the military. We had a few transgender vets come and meet with and us and discussed their plight. I saw no reason why not to support them.”
Vincent Foster, president of the Miami Log Cabin Republicans, said he was in “shock” and “appalled” when he first heard the news. But Foster said he still believes Trump is good for the LGBT community.
“I think it’s really important people recognize that it wasn’t until the last year of Obama’s presidency that he allowed transgender individuals into our military.” Foster said that he supports transgender individuals serving in the military but doesn’t think taxpayers should fund transgender-related procedures and medical care for military personnel. “It’s a privilege, not a right [to serve in the military]. And I’m done with the entitlement, especially on the left. They’re risking the efficiency of the strongest military in the world.”
A study by the Rand Corporation states that estimated transgender-related healthcare costs would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.
The study also found no evidence that allowing transgender individuals to serve openly would negatively impact the military.
“The limited research on the effects of foreign military policies indicates little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness. Commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force. Policy changes to open more roles to women and to allow gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly in the U.S. military have similarly had no significant effect on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness,” reads the study.