Pennsylvanians React To Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

Photo credit: Ted Eytan - 2017.07.26 Protest Trans Military Ban, White House, Washington DC. Flickr - cropped (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In his latest daily barrage of tweets, President Donald Trump took aim at the LGBTQ community by announcing that all transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve “in any capacity” in the United States Armed Forces. The comments have drawn the ire of advocates and Americans nationwide, who are fiercely opposed to the ban due to its regressive targeting of transgender individuals.

“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,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“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.”

Dante Elia, a Kutztown University graduate, and United States Army veteran, voiced his displeasure over the White House decision both as a veteran and a gay man.

“Speaking as a gay veteran, LGBTQ+ service members should be a point of pride in a democracy such as ours. Denying transgender Americans the opportunity to serve their country denigrates their patriotism,” he said.

Elia believed the idea that transgender people would be “disruptive” to military operations to be archaic and inappropriate, comparing it to past attempts to avoid racial integration in the military. Just as bad, he said, is the notion that the military would run away from potential distractions rather than address them directly.

“I dispute the claim that transgender members would cause a distraction. That’s the same argument that was used by opponents of racially integrating the troops. There are plenty of distractions in the military; facing them head-on is the best way to make them less distracting,” Elia said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also took offense to Trump’s decision, tweeted out that denying transgender people the ability to serve is “dead wrong.”

“Today, our Commander-in-Chief told Americans they cannot serve and sacrifice for their country because of who they are. That is dead wrong,” Wolf tweeted.

Rep. Dwight Evans, who represents Pennsylvania’s second congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted out opposition to the move as well.

@POTUS our servicemen & women, regardless of their race, sex, or gender, shouldn’t be targeted–EVER. They risk their lives for our safety,” he said.

The tweet by Trump also prompted a lengthy response from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who recently returned to Congress after a brain cancer diagnosis to cast a crucial vote on Tuesday to open debate on the GOP’s plan to repeal Obamacare. McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also voiced his displeasure with Trump’s decision to bar transgender people from military service.

“Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military—regardless of their gender identity,” McCain said.

The move, which marks social regression in the fight for gender equality, is likely to continue to garner opposition from lawmakers, advocates, and citizens, especially after Trump promised to fight for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community in a tweet last June.

“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people who will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” campaign Trump promised.

Consider that promise broken.

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About Justin Sweitzer 8 Articles
Justin Sweitzer is a journalist and Kutztown University student. He is a student fellow for Raging Chicken Press and also covers local government in Northampton County for The Home News. He can be reached via email at justin@rcpress.org and through Twitter at @justin_sweitzer.