President Donald Trump's Twitter announcement of a ban on transgender individuals from the military was met by a flurry of criticism from Democrats in Connecticut, who called the ban everything from "ignorant and profoundly troubling" to "appalling" and "shameful."
On Wednesday morning, Trump Tweeted the following statement: "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."
It was not clear how the ban would be enforced.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) responded on Twitter: "Discrimination isn’t patriotic. Members of our armed services deserve better than Pres Trump’s shameful transgender ban."
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5th District) also Tweeted a reply: "Appalling. @POTUS – who didn't serve himself – is callously dismissing the sacrifices of transgender soldiers bravely serving our nation."
Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also issued statements.
“President Trump’s announcement that he plans to ban transgender individuals from serving in our military is ignorant and profoundly troubling," Malloy said. "The reality is that a person’s gender identity or expression has nothing to do with their willingness or ability to defend our nation. Any able person who wishes to serve in the military should have that right – regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression."
Malloy pointed out recent efforts by the military to be more inclusive. In June 2016, then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender service members.
"The president’s announcement sends a frightening signal to the public that our government condones discrimination and raises serious questions about what other advancements towards inclusion in the military may also be in jeopardy," Malloy said. "For our part, we have been fierce and vocal advocates for the rights of transgender individuals in Connecticut, and we will not abandon them now. This is a wrong-minded and harmful policy and we will explore our options for what can be done to stop it.”
“Anyone who wants to and is qualified to serve in our military should be able to do so, period. Discrimination should have no place in our Armed Forces,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “There are thousands of members of the transgender community who are currently bravely and ably serving our country today. I’ll work with my colleagues to overturn this hateful policy.”
The decision was an acknowledgement of the transgender people already in the military, according to NPR . Rand Corp. researchers estimated that about 2,500 people out of 825,000 reserve service members are transgender, with the upper end of their range of estimates of around 7,000 in the active component and 4,000 in the reserves, NPR said.
“Excluding citizens from public service is not a strong or decent foundation for policy-making of any kind, and government especially should represent the people it serves. This policy is reckless and dangerous – and it impugns the integrity of transgender men and women who are already honorably serving in our nation’s military,' Wyman said. "Connecticut supports its LGBTQ residents, we expect Washington to as well. I urge the President to instead focus his time and energy in service to the values of the American people, our economy, and our standing as a world leader.”
For his part, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) re-Tweeted "just over one year ago," then added a Tweet from Trump from 2016. "Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs," said the original Tweet from @realDonaldTrump.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also weighed in on the issue.
“Servicemembers should be accepted on the basis of their ability to fight, train, and deploy without discrimination. Many transgender Americans have served honorably and capably – and countless others are serving now and would seek to serve in the future," Blumenthal said.
"President Trump should be thanking these servicemembers and veterans for their dedication and commitment to our nation instead of barring them from service. This rash and surprising Tweet contradicts the Department of Defense’s previous policy decision to allow transgender servicemembers to serve openly, and constitutes official discrimination.”
Wednesday also marked the 69th anniversary of President Harry's Truman decision to desegregate the U.S. military.
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