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N.H. Reacts To Trump Reinstating Transgender Military Ban

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

There was no shortage of reaction – much of it critical – in New Hampshire to President Trump’s announcement via Twitter Wednesday morning that transgender people would no longer be able to serve in the U.S. military.

The announcement reserves a decision made by the Obama administration last year. Trump administration officials couldn’t say Wednesday afternoon whether this means transgender people currently serving would be forced out.

Military officials said Thursday that the policy remains unchanged and transgender people can continue to serve until the White House sends the Department of Defense a rules change, according to the New York Times.

New Hampshire U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen said she strongly disagrees not only with President Trump’s decision, but also the way he announced it.

Shaheen is a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, and speaking on MSNBC, said committee members were never briefed on the policy change.

“The president should not be setting national security policy by tweeting,” she said. “We have thousands of transgender service members who are putting their lives on the line for this country every day. We should appreciate that and the president should not be suggesting this kind of a change without consulting the top members of our military.”

There was also pushback among some New Hampshire Republicans.

The recently-formed New Hampshire chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-LGBT rights group, condemned the decision.

But Republican State Represenative Al Baldasaro, a former marine and staunch Trump supporter, told WMUR he agreed with the move.  

But agree or disagree, everyone seemed to be caught off guard.

“This comes to me as a real shock because I thought we were on a much neater path, but obviously this got all turned on its head by these tweets this morning,” said Dartmouth Hitchcock physician Dr. Jack Turco, who works with the VA hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, and has several patients who are transgender service members.

Speaking to NHPR’s All Things Considered, Turco pushed back on Trump’s assertion that transgender people in the military are a disruption and come with tremendous medical costs.

“I don’t know what he’s referring to and I would make the point that this is a very small percentage of the population of the military," he said.

Coincidentally, there is a transgender equality rally planned for Saturday in Manchester’s Victory Park.

Michael serves as NHPR's Program Director. Michael came to NHPR in 2012, working as the station's newscast producer/reporter. In 2015, he took on the role of Morning Edition producer. Michael worked for eight years at The Telegraph of Nashua, covering education and working as the metro editor.
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