Chelsea Manning Speaks Out Against Trump's Ban On Transgender Military Service

President Trump surprised the country with a series of tweets banning transgender people from the military.

President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday morning that the United States military would no longer allow transgender people serve in the military.

In a series of tweets, President Trump cited "tremendous cost" and "disruption" that trans people would cause by serving in the military.

"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 on Twitter. "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."

Trump's decision is likely to ignite a firestorm of controversy over whether transgender Americans should be able to serve. Estimates from different studies say anywhere between 4,000 and 11,000 transgender people are already serving in the military. It appears Trump's ban, which reportedly caught the Pentagon off guard, will apply to recruits and not current military members, although the exact policy is still unclear.

Supporters of Trump's decision agree taxpayers and the military shouldn't have to fund a transgender person's medications or gender assignment surgery. Others question whether trans people serving in the military would make it less "effective" โ€” a concern that experts outright dismiss.

But critics of Trump and those who called for this decision say there is little evidence transgender people affect the military's performance and believe it's a civil rights violation to discriminate against Americans who want to serve.


Soon after, Chelsea Manning โ€” the most well-known transgender military veteran in the United States โ€” responded.

Manning, the former Army intelligence officer who served 7 years in prison after taking part in one of the largest leaks in military history, was released from prison in May. A controversial figure seen by some as a military and transgender hero and others as a traitor, Manning didn't hesitate to call out purported hypocrisy in Trump's reasoning.

Previously known as Bradley Manning, Chelsea came out as transgender while imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth, Kentucky. Lauded by many online for her bravery, she also pushed the military to provide her with sex reassignment surgery while behind bars, a move that had never been an option to military prisoners before. 

In response to a Twitter user's encouragement following her tweets in response to Trump, Manning responded: "Remember, it's love and inspiration that gives us our courage."

The decision by President Trump is a reversal of Obama-era policies that would have allowed transgender people to serve openly. Trump's defense secretary Gen. James Mattis had previously pushed back a deadline to extend Obama's policies by six months.

Richard Socarides, an LGBT rights advocate who worked under Bill Clinton, said Trump's move was a betrayal. On the campaign trail, the Trump had promised support for the LGBT community and propped up the support from Caitlyn Jenner as proof of his willingness to back transgender rights.

"But, what Trump will now learn: Don't mess with us," Socarides told The Washington Post. "This gets him a fight he will not win."

Manning also isn't too worried about the long-term. "Slow down for a second," she tweeted to her followers. "Take a deep breath. Think, feel. #WeGotThis."

Cover image via Chelsea Manning  / Shutterstock / a katz.


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