On Wednesday morning Donald Trump made a Twitter announcement revealing his plan to ban openly transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. While it's unclear what the statement means for transgender people already enlisted, there are plenty of transgender servicemen and women in the military who deserve the spotlight.
In Trump's announcement banning transgender people from the military, he cited trans people as a "disruption," claiming that the military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
"I defended for Republicans. I defended for Democrats. I defended for everyone."
However, Trump's claim that transgender people would disrupt the military erases those already serving. Retired Navy SEAL Team Six hero Kristin Beck had harsh words for the president. "Let's meet face to face and you tell me I'm not worthy," Kristin Beck told Business Insider. "Transgender doesn't matter. Do your service."
Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst, and perhaps the most famous trans woman to serve in the U.S. Military, also expressed her disappointment on Twitter:
Manning publicly came out as trans a day after being arrested for leaking military documents to Wikileaks. Her story, and the way she was forced to hide her identity, serves as an example of the presence of trans people already serving our country.
Here's more information on some of the transgender heroes who have served the U.S.:
Kristen Beck — Navy SEAL
The retired U.S. Navy SEAL Kristin Beck served in the Navy for twenty years, including thirteen deployments, and also received a Purple Heart. After retiring and coming out as a trans woman, she penned her 2013 memoir tell-all.
"I was defending individual liberty," she said of Trump's ban. "I defended for Republicans. I defended for Democrats. I defended for everyone."
Aaron Wixson — Marine Lance Corporal
In November, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Aaron Wixson came out as a trans man, making him one of the first openly trans men to serve in the military. The field artillery radar operator told CNN he looked forward to dressing as his true gender for the next Marine Corps ball.
"I will feel that I am finally seen as who I really am," he said.
Shane Ortega — Army Staff Sergeant
Retired Sgt. Shane Ortega served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, in both the Army and the Marines. Since coming out as a trans man, Ortega has been outspoken about trans rights, particularly for those in the military.
Regarding the president, Sgt. Ortega told Mic:
Trump is a man who is literally a war-dodger, who comes from a life of privilege and silver spoon, who has no connection to reality whatsoever, and I don't know how much more the American public needs to see that.
Shari Zabel — U.S. Air Force Major
Retired Maj. Shari Zabel served for twenty years as a fighter pilot and continued her career at the North American Aerospace Defense Command. She publicly came out as a trans woman in 2013, and since then, she's advocated for the LGBT community by serving on the board of Springs Equality in Colorado.
Sage Fox — Army Captain
Acutely aware of the obstacles trans people in the military face, Capt. Sage Fox has served as the executive vice president on the board at Transgender American Veterans Association. She also previously worked for the Army Chief of Staff, and was the first trans woman to serve in the uniform of her preferred gender in 2009.