Chelsea Manning, the most well-known transgender military figure, sharply disparaged President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning that transgender people would be banned from serving in the U.S. military.
She questioned the reasoning Trump gave for the ban and calling his actual motivation “cowardice.”
Trump announced the ban in a series of tweets around 9 a.m.
“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 U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
The administration of former President Barack Obama announced plans to lift the ban on transgender men and women serving in the military in June 2016. July 1 was the deadline for the full implementation of lifting the ban, but Trump delayed it before making his announcement Wednesday.
The Pentagon commissioned a six-month study before lifting the ban, estimating that transgender service member treatments would increase military health care costs between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, according to the LA Times. That constitutes a 0.13 percent increase.
The F-35 program referenced by Manning is estimated to cost $406.5 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Manning was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 after disclosing 750,000 documents to WikiLeaks, many of them classified or sensitive military documents. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but her sentence was commuted by Obama at the end of his presidential term and she was released in May.
She also responded to multiple people on Twitter who voiced support for Trump’s continuation of the ban.