President Donald Trump’s tweets barring transgender people from serving in the military were called into question by local officials on both sides of the po-litical aisle Wednesday afternoon.
Trump’s announcement on Twitter barred transgender individuals from participating in the military “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” Trump did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military.
President Trump wants transgender people barred from the military "in any capacity." Is that a good idea?
U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, R-2nd, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Trump’s statement concerned him.
“Removing thousands of men and women from admirably and honorably serving is counterintuitive to strengthening our military. I have serious concerns about what this new directive means for current active duty and reserve transgender members of our Armed Forces and National Guard. I expect Defense Secretary Mattis to provide clarity on this issue and determine what is in the best interest of military readiness to protect our nation,” LoBiondo said in a statement Wednesday.
From Trump’s own Republican Party, to an independent transgender activist, the response was met with frustration.
Mico Lucide, of Mays Landing, a member of the Green Party in Atlantic County and a 2nd District Assembly candidate with a history of transgender activism, said he wasn’t shocked by Trump’s tweets.
However, Lucide said he was frustrated for the transgender community — and specifically a transgender person he knows at Stockton University in Galloway Township whose dream was to go into the Navy.
“Now I don’t know if that person can fulfill their life dream,” Lucide said.
The president tweeted that after consulting with “Generals and military experts,” the 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,” he added.
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Since Oct. 1, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.
Already, there are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon’s personnel system, according to several defense officials.
The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A Rand Corp. study estimated there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members on active duty and an additional 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.
Lucide said Trump citing health care costs as the reason for barring transgender individuals was baffling and frustrating.
“That’s an absurd thing to say about anybody to declare anyone is a burden because of their health,” Lucide said.
But some conservative organizations and lawmakers hailed the decision.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded Trump for “keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Trump’s supporters “will be happy to hear it. We don’t need to be experimenting with the military. Plus, there’s no reason to take on that kind of financial burden.”
Lucide said the way to make change is in a three-pronged system: education, action and elections. This will involve having knowledge of the situation, protesting much like the women’s march in January and electing transgender officials, he said.
“When a community does not have a voice in the house where change can be made, then that community is continued to be glossed over with policies. It’s easy to ignore something you don’t see on a day-to-day basis, but it seems like that’s how our politicians work,” Lucide said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.