9 Military Vets Who Have Condemned President Trump’s Transgender Ban With Powerful Statements

These vets want their voices to be heard and they aren't holding back.

President Trump first tweeted about a transgender military ban back in July, and last month he formally ordered a reversal of a 2016 order from former President Obama that allowed transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Earlier this week, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, and Maine Senator Susan Collins, a Republican, introduced a bipartisan amendment that seeks to prevent the military from expelling transgender service members "solely based on their gender identity," but it's unknown exactly when that measure will be put to a vote or if it has enough votes to pass.

While many in Congress are deciding if and how to challenge the administration's ban, several articulate and passionate veterans (many of whom are still in public service) have already spoken out against the anti-LGBT measure. Take a look at some of their powerful and poignant statements below.

1. Laila Ireland

Army veteran Laila Ireland took the stage at GLAAD's San Francisco Gala earlier this week and voiced her disapproval of the transgender military ban. As a transgender woman herself, Ireland spoke from the heart regarding the impact the ban will have on her and her husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, who is also transgender and still on active duty.

Ireland's voice quivered as she admitted she doesn't know what the future holds for her loved one. "We are not a burden or an expense," she declared. 

Ireland, who was part of a group of transgender vets who attended the MTV VMAs in August, later added, "It is my hope that our military leaders will quickly acknowledge that transgender troops should get the same freedoms and integrity we so courageously protect," she told the audience, per Upworthy.

2. Paula M. Neira

The former naval officer who left the Navy in 1991 and transitioned to female soon after told CBS News in July that the ban goes against military values. "Nobody who is willing to volunteer to defend our country should ever be told that they're not fit because of other people's prejudice, and not because of any military necessity," she explained.

3. Veterans For Peace

Veterans For Peace, a global organization of vets who aim to build a peaceful culture, condemned the ban explaining, "Veterans For Peace affirms the rights, humanity, and identity of trans people and calls on President Trump to reverse his bigoted decision to bar trans people from exercising their right as full citizens to serve in the United States military."

4. Tomi Kay

In an essay for HuffPost, trans U.S. Army vet Tomi Kay claimed President Trump's ban is "adding to the transmisogyny." She later added, "There was no better feeling than being an American Soldier and braving the unknown so we can keep those who want to harm our country at bay. It truly cuts deep knowing I was good enough to lay down my life for the USA but can no longer do so."

Kay also weighed in on Twitter, which you can see above.

5. Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning, a transgender former Army intelligence officer who served seven years in prison after taking part in one of the largest leaks in military history, tweeted that the ban "sounds like cowardice."

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Manning, who also pushed the military to provide her with sex reassignment surgery during her imprisonment, later wrote, "There is a lot of hurt. There is a lot of fear. Trans people even outside the military are terrified about what this means for the rest of us."

6. Sen. Tammy Duckworth

The freshman senator from Illinois — a former Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs in combat in Iraq — has been one of the most outspoken critics of the administration's proposed ban. She has called it "dead wrong" and "indefensible," noting transgender people are twice as likely to serve in the armed forces.

"When my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else," Duckworth added. "All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind."

7. Rep. Tim Walz

Following President Trump's July tweet, Rep. Walz — a Minnesota Democrat and retired command sergeant major in the Army National Guard — released a lengthy statement. Walz declared, in part, "Our brave transgender troops currently serving this great nation are not a burden; they are American heroes. They volunteered to put their lives on the line for our freedom, and their service should be welcomed, celebrated, respected, and honored.  After 24 years of service as an enlisted soldier, I know what it takes to build cohesive teams in our military."

8. Rep. Seth Moulton

The Massachusetts Democrat and former Marine Corps officer who served in Iraq has vehemently opposed the ban from the start. "This policy is wrong, morally and militarily," Moulton said in a statement. "These are Americans who are willing to put their lives on the line for our country, which is far, far more than President Trump has ever been willing to do. Trump is trying to reverse civil rights, and I'm going to do whatever I can to stop him."

In a tweet, which you can see above, Moulton also declared President Trump is on the "wrong side of history."

9. Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg is a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves who was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months in 2014. He also happens to be the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and is no fan of the transgender military ban.

"It smells like his decision has more to do with politics than policy and that's really unfortunate because what is going to get disrupted is the lives of many patriotic American troops who are just trying to do their job," Buttigieg said in an interview with local news station ABC 57. "My experience is if you can do your job you can do your job. In the military one reason why it's been a force for different kinds of Americans coming together is you have Americans working side by side to get something done and that's all that matters."

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