Veteran reacts to Trump’s proposal to ban transgender soldiers

Kimberly Acoff served in the Indiana National Guard when it was illegal for transgender people to serve. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — President Trump announced Wednesday morning on Twitter that he will ban transgender people from serving in “any capacity” in the U.S. armed forces.

The president said he consulted with his generals and military experts. He said the military must be focused on victory and cannot be burdened with the ‘tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.

Transgender service members have served openly in the military since last year when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban.

Military chiefs recently announced a delay on allowing transgender people from enlisting so they can study the issue, but transgender troops are already serving in the military.

The White House is not saying what will happen to those people currently serving. Different studies estimate the number currently serving from the low thousands to as many as 15,000.

“The implementation policy is going to be something the White House and Department of Defense have to work together to lawfully determine,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “I would imagine the department of defense will be the lead on that.”

She did not provide a timeline for the process.

A 2016 RAND Corp. study concluded gender-transition health care coverage for transgender military members would increase the defense department’s health care costs by as much as $8.4 million.

The Pentagon’s overall health care expenditures are around $49.3 billion.

The Pentagon will not say if Defense Secretary James Mattis agreed with Trump’s announcement.

On Wednesday, one Hoosier who is transgender spoke out about her time in the Indiana National Guard.

Kimberly Acoff served in the Indiana National Guard when it was illegal for transgender people to serve.

“Every day living in fear that someone is going to find you out, like you’ve done something wrong but you’ve done nothing wrong,” she said.

All she wanted was a chance.

“I didn’t believe in myself. I was in a dead end in many areas in my life, as many transgender individuals are,” she said.

She got that chance. The Indiana National Guard helped her graduate from college and get a master’s degree. She also trained hundreds of soldiers deploying to Iraq.

She said no one knew she was a transgender person.

“My sexuality is no more of a barrier for training and working in the military than my color was,” Acoff said.

In fact, she said, the military molded her into the woman she is today. But still, when the guard found out she was a transgender person back in 2005, she said she was told not to re-enlist.

And fast-forward to today: She read about Trump’s intention to once again disallow people who are transgender from serving to save money on medical costs.

“That’s not what this country is all about. We’re about giving an opportunity,” she said. “Not taking it away and stripping people of it.”

She has a message for the president.

“Know we are real people to be valued, not devalued. We’re the people he represents. He’s our president and we’re his people.”

Acoff said she’s still friends with many of the soldiers she met in the National Guard.

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