Philadelphia News & Search
President Trump’s announcement Wednesday that transgender people will be barred from serving in the military has some local officials and veterans in the Philadelphia region accusing the president of being harmful and hypocritical.
“He’s turning everything backward,” said John Grant, 70, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Plymouth Meeting and is former president of Philadelphia Veterans For Peace. The organization has marched in recent years in Philadelphia’s Pride Parade to show support for one of its members who is LGBTQ.
“The idea of gays and now transgender people in the military is a reality,” Grant said. “The military doesn’t care what your sexual preferences are or what your gender identification is. All they want you to do is follow orders.”
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D., Camden County) and other elected officials criticized Trump’s decision.
— Donald Norcross (@DonaldNorcross) July 26, 2017
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat from Camden who now represents Mercer County, called the news “shameful” and retweeted a 2016 tweet from Trump saying he would fight for the LGBT community.
So, he lied. pic.twitter.com/OBzRxFYS9g
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 26, 2017
State Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat from Philadelphia, said Trump “doesn’t know one thing about military prowess, strategy, or strength” in response to a Facebook post by Philly.com about Trump’s decision.
Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military.
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.
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 will not release data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A RAND study found that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active duty military, and another 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former 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.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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