Chelsea Manning blasts Trump announcement on transgender military members as ‘cowardice’

Chelsea manning
Chelsea Manning was released from prison in May. Chelsea Manning/Instagram

The most famous transgender woman to serve in the US military is decrying President Donald Trump’s tweets announcing his plan to ban transgender people from the military “in any capacity.”

Chelsea Manning, who came out as transgender a day after being sentenced to jail for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks, called Trump’s announcement “cowardice” on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that “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 US Military.”

He then went on to explain the decision by saying that the military could not be “burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption” that transgender people would allegedly bring. Conservatives have frequently argued that healthcare like hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery are too costly to provide to active service members.

Manning, who went through her own protracted legal battles to receive hormone drugs while in prison, called out Trump’s statement in tweets of her own.

“So, biggest baddest most $$ military on earth cries about a few trans people but funds the F-35?,” tweeted Manning, referring to the $US400 billion fighter jet program. “Sounds like cowardice.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which worked with Manning during her time in prison, also sent a statement to Business Insider calling Trump’s announcement “outrageous and desperate.”

“This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country,” said Joshua Block, an ACLU senior staff attorney who represented transgender clients in the past.

Manning was released from prison in May. During the seven years she was locked up, Manning was seen as a hero by some and as a traitor by others. Born as Bradley Manning, she elevated discussion on LGBT rights in the military after her struggles with gender identity came to light in the midst of the WikiLeaks scandal.