Trump’s transgender military ban isn’t going over very well with Americans

A new poll indicates the president’s effort isn’t sitting well with people across the country.

Protesters listen to speakers at a demonstration against a proposed ban of transgendered people in the military in the Castro District, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in San Francisco. Demonstrators flocked to a plaza named for San Francisco gay-rights icon Harvey Milk to protest President Donald Trump’s abrupt ban on transgender troops in the military. CREDIT: AP Photo/Olga R. Rodriguez
Protesters listen to speakers at a demonstration against a proposed ban of transgendered people in the military in the Castro District, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in San Francisco. Demonstrators flocked to a plaza named for San Francisco gay-rights icon Harvey Milk to protest President Donald Trump’s abrupt ban on transgender troops in the military. CREDIT: AP Photo/Olga R. Rodriguez

Far more U.S. citizens think transgender service members should be allowed in the army than do not, according to a new survey.

When asked if they agreed with the statement, “transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military,” 58 percent of respondents concurred, a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll revealed on Friday. Only 27 percent said transgender people should not be allowed to serve, with the rest responding that they “don’t know.” Those who identified themselves as Democrats were predominately in favor of transgender people serving, with 83 percent in favor. Republicans were more evenly split, with 32 percent in favor and almost 20 percent less decisive (49 percent were opposed).

Coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military, the poll is a stark indicator that the policy move is far from representative of public opinion. It also reinforces the wave of backlash that emerged immediately following Trump’s announcement.

Trump announced the policy update in a series of tweets last Wednesday, surprising military officials and active service members.

“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. 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,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump’s announcement was reportedly a response to ongoing feuding over funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, among other campaign promises. According to Politico, a number of conservative Republicans wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded gender affirming surgeries for transgender military members — a policy introduced under former President Barack Obama. Unable to make progress with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, hardliners went straight to Trump, who moved to ban transgender service members altogether.

Bipartisan condemnation of the decision was wide-ranging following the president’s announcement. Numerous Democrats panned the move, while a number of Republicans also voiced criticism.

“The President’s tweet…regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ). “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.”

McCain’s comments were echoed by a few other Republican lawmakers, including Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a former Army Reserve commander, whose spokesperson noted that while Ernst “believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.” Republican Senators Thom Tillis (NC), Richard Shelby (AL), and Orrin Hatch (UT) were among others who also expressed discontent.

That reaction is in line with broader national views, per Friday’s poll. But it’s also reflective of the response anti-queer and anti-transgender legislation typically garners.

Republicans across the country have introduced bills singling out the LGBTQ community. In states like Texas and North Carolina, “bathroom bills” have garnered particular controversy, as lawmakers work to restrict the restrooms transgender and gender non-conforming residents can use. But polling indicates those efforts aren’t very popular either. In Texas, 53 percent of voters oppose Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s anti-transgender proposals; in North Carolina, former Governor Pat McCrory lost re-election over his own attempt to regulate transgender bathroom usage. Similar efforts to target queer people have also been met with disapproval, including across regions typically seen as more conservative, namely the South, Midwest, and Appalachia.

Those sentiments are now playing out on a more national stage, and if Friday’s poll is any indicator, with potential repercussions for Trump.

“Even the president shouldn’t be able to take rights away from some people just because he may not like them,” Roger Kaikko, 61, a Trump voter near Cleveland, Ohio who took the poll, told Reuters. “They’re people too. Unless they’re causing problems, they should serve just like anybody else.”

While Trump issued the announcement last week, it’s unclear when it will go into effect. According to numerous sources, the Pentagon is still awaiting updated guidance from the White House. In a memo sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chairman General Joseph Dunford indicated no changes would be made until then.

“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance,” Dunford said.