Alastair Boone is the editor-in-chief of Street Spirit and a former editorial fellow at CityLab.
A Trump administration official dared local electeds to stand up against the ban. They did.
This morning, President Trump announced in a series of tweets that he was banning transgender people from the military. After speaking to a Trump administration official, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tweeted out the official’s response:
Just spoke to a Trump administration official about the transgender military decision. Here's what they said... pic.twitter.com/eOWdvlxTfd— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 26, 2017
The official may have intended it as a dare, suggesting that Trump’s move was an electoral tactic. But a number of U.S. mayors were ready to take up the official on his suggestion, including several in the Rust Belt. In the minutes and hours since the president’s announcement, mayors all over the country have made it clear that they welcome the transgender individuals the president may now eject from the nation’s armed forces.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said that president Trump has come down on the “wrong side of history,” reminding Chicagoans that today is the 69th anniversary of President Truman’s order to integrate the military. And Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he supports any American who wants serve in the military.
On the 69th anniversary of President Truman’s order to integrate the military, President Trump has come down on the wrong side of history. pic.twitter.com/RFnKma9uG4— Mayor Rahm Emanuel (@ChicagosMayor) July 26, 2017
I stand by any American willing to serve and fight for our great nation. Together, we are united in promoting equality for all.— Mayor Tom Barrett (@MayorOfMKE) July 26, 2017
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren echoed the sentiment that the president’s ban is a regression, stating: “It seems like our country has been transported back in time with the Neanderthal policies coming out of the White House.”
On the other side of the country, Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix reminded Arizonians of the city’s decision last year to implement transgender inclusive healthcare.
A year ago, City of Phoenix added transgender inclusive health care. Makes our city a more competitive employer & stronger community.— Greg Stanton (@MayorStanton) July 26, 2017
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the President’s new ban offensive, discriminatory, and potentially unconstitutional. Nirenberg emphasized the issue’s special resonance in his city, which is home to three military bases and is nestled in a state that is trying to limit public bathroom access for transgender residents—a bill that he testified against earlier this month.
Several mayors of sanctuary cities also came forward to oppose the president’s new ban. In these cities, which are already fighting the Trump administration to protect their immigrant residents, many officials have taken measures to protect their transgender residents as well. Last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio launched an ad campaign that affirmed the legal right to use bathrooms consistent with gender identity in New York City. His tweet this morning doubled down on this support.
Thousands of brave transgender Americans serving our nation right now proudly prove you wrong, President Trump. pic.twitter.com/OVyYKzjSQG— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) July 26, 2017
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said it is “shameful and un-American” to turn individuals away from the military because of their gender identity, and mayor Denise Simmons of Cambridge tweeted that the ban works against fostering the kind of inclusive country that many have spent their lives fighting for. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s support adds to a long history of San Francisco’s support for LGBTQ rights.
And this is NOT representative of the inclusive, welcoming country that so many of us have been fighting our whole lives for— Mayor Denise Simmons (@E_DeniseSimmons) July 26, 2017
Mayor Jess Herbst of New Hope, Texas, tweeted that President Trump’s ban contradicts his campaign platform of supporting the LGBTQ community. In February, Herbst came out as Texas’s first openly transgender mayor.
While mayors may not control military policy, this is another front on which cities are exercising their resistance to the Trump administration. As per the White House’s statement, city officials can run on opposition to the president’s newest ban—and it seems that many are willing to do so.