Within minutes of President Donald Trump stating Wednesday that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, a firestorm erupted.
Leading the criticism are many members of the U.S. Congress, including Sen. Mazie Hirono and Reps. Colleen Hanabusa, all Democrats from Hawaii.
Hirono, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “Transgender Americans serve our country with honor and distinction. The President’s decision is wrong, and perpetuates bigoted stereotypes about the LGBTQ community.”
Hanabusa said this:
“The men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces are patriots and the diversity that exists in our military strengthens us. Unfortunately, President Trump has shown, once again, his inclination to exclude and discriminate.
“I stand in opposition to President Trump’s ill-conceived policy and I will continue to support a military open to all who wish to serve our country.”
Military personnel, their dependents and retired veterans comprise about 10 percent of the population of Hawaii, which is home to key defense installations.
Trump tweeted news of the ban Wednesday morning:
“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.”
Condemnation of the transgender ban has been bipartisan, including from veterans such as Sen. John McCain, the Republican of Arizona, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, the Democrat from Illinois, who has strong Hawaii ties.
“When my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else,” Duckworth said, according to The Hill. “All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.”
Another veteran, Gabbard, aired her views on Twitter:
They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not kicked out of the military as they risk their lives to protect our nation.
Transgender troops have been able to serve openly since summer 2016, when the Obama administration lifted a previous ban, The Hill reported:
“Estimates on the number of transgender troops vary widely. On the high end, LGBT advocates put it at 15,000. On the low end, a 2016 Rand Corporation study estimated there were 2,450 in active duty and 1,510 in the reserves.”
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