New York, N.Y. – A mass protest occurred yesterday in the middle of crowded Times Square to vocally protest President Donald Trump’s announcement that transgender individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the United States military. The decision appeared to come out of left field, being abruptly announced on Twitter so quickly that his own staff were unable to answer questions about it after the fact.
Many local political figures were in attendance, including city council candidates Rachel Honig (who called the ban “absurd”) and Mel Wymore. Mr. Wymore himself is transgender and a vocal advocate for the rights of transgender people. His election would be historic for the New York City council and would send a clear message to Trump that his views are out of step with many Americans, including those in America’s largest city. At the podium he promised Trump a strong grassroots resistance from the LGBT community and its allies.
Trump cited unwieldy costs and a drain on the Department of Defense’s massive budget to allow transgender troops and to pay for their medical costs, including the procedures involved in transitioning, which are often complex and expensive. However, according to a study by the RAND Corporation and commissioned by the Department of Defense, the estimated annual cost of these procedures total would cost the department somewhere in between $2.4 million and $8.4 million.
While that may look like a lot of money, consider the fact that, according to the Military Times, the Department of Defense spends upwards of $84 million a year on erectile dysfunction drugs, with $41.6 being spent on Pfizer’s blockbuster name-brand drug Viagra alone.
This move goes against the increasing tolerance within the Department of Defense for allowing people of all kinds who want to serve their country to join a branch of the military. Ironically, today was the date sixty-nine years ago that President Harry Truman ordered the military to racially integrate and accept people of color within its ranks. Truman also finally allowed women to serve in the military in a permanent status, despite some women being temporarily conscripted first in World War I.
This also comes startling soon after the Department of Defense (after much debate), finally eliminated their “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy about gay and lesbian individuals serving in the armed forces, tolerating it only if they remained silent about it.
Whether this ban will remain in place for a long period of time or will be reversed and chalked up to one of President Trump’s many Twitter rants remains to be seen (especially since even the Pentagon is unhappy with the president’s sudden Twitter-driven policy announcement), but if the crowd out in Times Square yesterday is any indication, people are not going to take this lying down.