Home News Around the Region: Trump ban on transgender servicemembers garners bipartisan criticism

Around the Region: Trump ban on transgender servicemembers garners bipartisan criticism

Around the Region: Trump ban on transgender servicemembers garners bipartisan criticism

Iowa’s LGBTQ groups reacted strongly to Trump’s attempted ban on transgender military personnel, CBS2 Iowa reports:

LGBTQ advocacy groups and other organizations expressed discontent over President Trump’s announcement that he would reinstate the ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces.

The announcement, saying that transgender people will no longer be able to serve in “any capacity” because of the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” they could cause, came in a series of tweets Wednesday morning.

When he read the tweets, Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools—a non-profit organization that works to protect LGBTQ youth from bullying in schools—said his first reaction was one of anger. But then he remembered a transgender student from rural Iowa with his sights set on a career in the military.

Even some of the state’s conservatives were uneasy with the proposed ban, KJAN reports:

Senator Joni Ernst says taxpayers “shouldn’t cover the costs associated with gender reassignment surgery,” but Ernst says any qualified American should be able to serve in the military. President Trump has sent a series of tweets, announcing the U.S. military “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the military.” Trump says transgender soldiers cause “disruption” and cloud the military’s focus on “decisive and overwhelming victory.”

While Iowa’s religious right tacitly supported Trump’s ban, both Republican Senators where somewhat critical of it, KCRG reports:

Trump’s tweets did have support in Iowa. Social-conservative group The Family Leader didn’t exactly celebrate the move, though.

It said online, “if embracing transgenderism in the ranks compromises the safety of the American people, then, as politically incorrect as it may be, President Trump made the right call.”

Iowa’s two U.S. senators didn’t seem to agree, despite being members of the president’s own party.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Joni Ernst said while she doesn’t think taxpayers should pay for gender reassignment surgery, she does believe Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve, should.

Chuck Grassley echoed that during a news conference, later Wednesday.

“You’ve got to be blind to the individual’s background,” Grassley said. Take them if they meet the qualifications.”

Iowa City public schools are considering beefing up LGBTQ curriculum, the Press Citizen reports:

Data illustrating negative experiences among LGBTQ students at school are prompting the Iowa City Community School District to consider curriculum changes.

District officials at Tuesday night’s school board meeting discussed plans to create a task force that will look at addressing sexual orientation and gender-based disparities in students’ experiences at school. The task force will consider recommendations from the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, which include integrating more LGBTQ-inclusive classroom material.

The Associated Press interviewed retired transgender military folks in Wisconsin about the ban:

Sheri Swokowski of DeForest served in the Wisconsin National Guard for nearly 25 years. She waited until after she retired from the military to make her gender transition.

“I’m very disappointed and surprised that the leader of our military would say that transgender military personnel were not capable of defending this country, something they’ve been doing since the 1700s,” Swokowski said.

She’s since gotten a job as a civilian senior analyst at the Pentagon. Swokowski said if the civilian side can work with transgender individuals, the military should be able to do the same.

WISN also interviewed transgender folks about the ban:

A decorated military veteran who put her life on the line for her country said she will fight President Donald Trump’s move to ban transgender people from military service.

“Almost 35 years,” Col. Sheri Swokowski said. “So I must have done something right a couple times in my career to make colonel.”

During active duty, the Manitowoc native lived as a man. After retirement, the colonel shared her secret, had gender reassignment surgery and returned to civilian duty at the Pentagon as a woman.

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Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.