LGBTQ

Republicans in Congress Quick to Criticize Trump's Ban of Transgender People in the Military

If Trump's transgender ban was just a cynical ploy to his base, it doesn't seem to be working all that well.

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

After President Donald Trump announced his intent to ban all transgender Americans from serving in the military, Republicans were quick to speak out and distance themselves from the president’s decision.

“I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. “I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the policy the President tweeted today.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was quick to say that he opposed the president’s decision as well. “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,” McCain said in a statement. “The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. 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,” the statement said.

“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,” McCain, who returned to the Senate on Tuesday after recently being diagnosed with brain cancer, said.

Sen. Richard Shelby, a conservative Republican from Alabama, told CNN he believed that “you ought to treat everybody fairly & give everybody a chance to serve,” although he wouldn’t directly come out and oppose the president’s new policy, or the manner in which he disclosed it.

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, a 20-year military veteran and a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, released a statement of rebuke through her spokesperson.

“She believes what is most important is making sure service members can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life,” Ernst spokeswoman Brook Hougesen told the Des Moines Register. “While she believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”

Florida Republican Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, who has a transgender son, slammed Trump’s decision on Twitter:

 

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay.