The following editorial appeared in the July 28 edition of The Free Press of Mankato:
With three out-of-the-blue tweets on Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump seemed to surprise everyone from his staff, to the Pentagon to lawmakers in Congress.
“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 tweeted.
We are disappointed in the president’s decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military. Like many of the president’s tweeted policy statements, this one came without explanation, without a timeline and without any indication on what would happen to the estimated 15,500 transgender soldiers currently serving in the military.
In a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t answer that question, “That’s something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully,” she said.
While it is not necessarily surprising that Trump wants to roll back the Obama-era policy of allowing transgender people to serve — since he seemingly wants to overturn every Obama-era policy — what is surprising is the backlash he has received even from conservative lawmakers including Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who all came out against the policy.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, gave this statement, “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people and deserve the best we can do for them.”
A statement issued by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., read, “The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today ... 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. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.”
We agree with McCain. Leaving more than 15,000 service people wondering if they’ll be kicked out of the military was reckless. It’s also bad policy. These patriots deserve better.