Local reaction to President Trump's transgender military ban

A transgender man granted asylum by the U.S. last year is challenging an Indiana law that prevents him from changing his first name to a male name that matches his gender identity. (MGN)

RICHLAND TOWNSHIP -- There was a tweetstorm from President Donald Trump early Wednesday morning saying he will ban transgender men and women from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military because of tremendous medical costs and disruption.

It reverses a policy change set in motion by President Barack Obama.

There was mixed reaction from folks in Johnstown and on Capitol Hill.

"I think he's referring back to the generals for their professional ideas, what they see to focus on,” said Eric McClintock. “It's tough. These decisions, you gotta make 'em."

But not everyone agrees with the decision, including some Trump supporters.

"I'm a Trump fan and I did vote for Trump,” said Cecelia Romesberg. “And I'm a conservative, but on that end of things I'm probably a little more liberal. So I was a little disappointed in that because I just don't believe in any form of discrimination."

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey's office released a statement.

“Senator Toomey believes that every person should be judged based on his or her merits. That is why, during his entire public career, he has supported measures to protect individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. National security decisions affecting Department of Defense personnel policies should be made in consultation with American military leadership and be based purely upon what will help ensure the safety of the American people.”

“America is called a melting pot. I think it’s awesome that all different kinds of people are willing to fight for our freedoms,” said Dan Malzi,

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey also released a statement.

“Americans willing to serve our nation in the military should be judged on their ability to do the job, not their gender identity. The decision announced by the Administration today will prevent highly qualified, patriotic Americans from serving in our military. This new policy is inconsistent with the recommendations of military leadership during 2015 review of this policy. Prohibiting qualified, capable people from serving in our nation’s military because of who they are makes our nation less safe.”

"Like you're fighting for freedom. Don't they have the freedom to be transgender?” said Malzi. “It's kind of like counterproductive to the whole reason you join the military in the first place. I see no issue with it. I don't see why he'd see it as a big deal at all."

Local activists are also upset.

"To attack patriots who serve in our military with honor just because they are transgender is hypocritical of a man who avoided military training,” said Johnstown resident John DeBartola, president, Keystone Alliance/Gaylife Newsletter.

“The situation with President Trump's tweet has arisen great awareness not only of the need to support a Federal Hate Crimes Bill but what it has done also it especially has brought out in the local community awareness. Trump needs to learn to tone it down and be quiet about issues he knows very little about."

The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent gay rights group, has estimated that there are more than 15,000 active serving transgender troops.

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