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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Ernst breaks with Trump on transgendered in military

Jul 27, 2017

By Ed Tibbetts, Quad-City Times


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, voiced her opposition Wednesday to President Donald Trump’s announcement that transgender individuals won’t be allowed to serve in the military.

Ernst’s office said that the senator thinks “Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”

The president took to Twitter Wednesday morning and, in a series of messages, said: “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”

The Obama administration had decided to allow transgender people to serve. There are various estimates of how many transgender people are in the military. A Rand study last year put the number at 2,500 on active duty, out of 1.3 million overall. A 2014 study by the Williams Institute estimated the number at 15,000 who are on active duty, in the Reserves or National Guard.

Ernst, who is a veteran, doesn’t think taxpayers should pay for gender reassignment surgery, her office said in an email, but added that “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.”

On a conference call Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he would defer on the question to military officials and to Ernst.

Told of Ernst’s response, he said, “I have respect for what she has to say.” He said he would study the issue further.

Also Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., issued a statement saying the president’s announcement comes on the anniversary of President Harry Truman signing an executive order to desegregate the military.

“Instead of honoring the progress we have made on this historic day, the President chose to put our military, once again, in the middle of a discriminatory policy,” he said.

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