With Obamacare reform back from the dead and wending its way toward a substantive vote, the Trump administration has decided that two massive national policy controversies are better than one. In a set of tweets this morning, President Trump announced that he is banning transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military.
The decision, if implemented, would reverse an Obama-era policy put in place by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter asserting that transgender people could not be dismissed from service or prevented from enlisting “just for being transgender.” Strung together, Trump’s surprise tweets read:
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
As has happened many times in the most unconventional seven months in the U.S. presidency, major figures in the private sector, specifically tech, are speaking out with their policy displeasure du jour.
For Silicon Valley, which has made considerable if at times fraught progress when it comes to trans issues, these moments create friction around the industry’s generally socially liberal stances and an opportunity to speak out ideologically against an administration that at other times it appears content to coordinate with.
Beyond the sheer practical idiocy of rejecting Americans who are ready and willing to serve in the military, the White House’s apparent motivation stands as yet another example of its casual bigotry and willingness to deepen ideological divides in order to serve political ends. And at least some in Silicon Valley aren’t having it.
Tech leaders are rapidly responding to the order on Twitter.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was one of the first to respond to the announcement, and Google’s official Twitter account echoed the sentiment.
Randi Zuckerberg, investor, speaker and author, also had something to say, emphasizing that trans people are not a “burden,” as Trump classified them, and saying that “discrimination is violence.”
Sam Altman, head of Y Combinator, linked to an article in Scientific American that compared the cost of healthcare for trans members of the military to the cost of Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago:
He also retweeted Max Levchin:
In a statement to TechCrunch, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures responded:
“It’s yet another example of his inability to see everyone as equally important contributors to our society and our humanity. Yet another sad day to be an American.”
And the other Zuckerberg weighs in:
Bastian Lehmann, CEO and cofounder of Postmates, had this to say:
Postmates backed him up:
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who has been a huge proponent of equal rights for the LGBTQ community, tweeted this:
Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley quote-tweeted former Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson’s tweet:
Apple CEO Tim Cook said this:
Uber is now chiming in:
We owe the deepest debt of gratitude to all those who volunteer to serve in the US Armed Forces and defend our values. These patriotic Americans deserve to be honored and respected, not turned away because of who they are.
And here’s what SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie said:
We’ll be updating this story with tech’s responses to today’s transgender military ban as they come in.