Chelsea Manning Slams Trump Military Trans Ban As "Cowardice"
U.S. Army

In a series of tweets responding to President Trump's military transgender ban, Chelsea Manning called it "cowardice" and replied to other Twitter users commenting on the ban. "So, biggest baddest most $$ military on earth cries about a few trans people," she tweeted, "but funds the F-35? sounds like cowardice."

Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst who was imprisoned for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to Wikileaks in 2010, became the U.S. Army's most prominent transgender service member in recent years, undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 2016. As an inmate, she had requested medical treatment for gender dysphoria, and the government initially denied it, leading to a suicide attempt in July last year. Manning then went on a hunger strike, which ended about a week later when the military agreed to provide her treatment.

She became the first service member to receive gender reassignment surgery in military prison. Manning's high-profile struggle to receive treatment prompted sweeping change to the Department of Defense's policy regarding transgender soldiers. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the ban on trans people serving openly in the military last year, and in the final weeks of his presidency, Obama commuted her 35-year sentence. Manning was freed in May this year.

In her tweets on Wednesday, Manning criticized the military's spending on Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets that are reportedly riddled with design flaws. The total expenditures for the F-35 program, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, has amounted to nearly $1 trillion.

In contrast, the RAND Corporation โ€” a nonprofit that the Obama administration consulted in its 2016 decision to lift the ban on trans people serving openly last year โ€” estimated that health care for transgender people in the military would cost "between $2.4 million and $8.4 million," or, according to the RAND study, a 0.13 percent increase.

Manning criticized Democrat Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader. She retweeted his comment on Trump's ban and implored him to "actually do something about this."

Manning held up Trump's ban on trans people in the military as reason to "dismantle the bloated and dangerous military/intel/police state," she tweeted, "to fund #healthcare for all."

She also remarked on far-right pundit Tomi Lahren's tweet that taxpayers "should not be on the hook for hormone treatment" and that the military is about the "mission," not the individual.

"What mission is that?" Manning asked. "Wasting money on dysfunctional equipment and greedy contractors? we (you) will pay for #healthcare."