Tech leaders respond to Trump’s ban of transgender people in the military

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.

I am grateful to the transgender members of the military for their service.  # LetThemServe.

— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) July 26, 2017

We are grateful to transgender members of the military for their service. #LetThemServehttps://t.co/fTF7FodpWi

— Google (@Google) July 26, 2017

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.”

Trans folks – in history and today – help to shape this world in ways big and small. They are not a “burden.” Discrimination is violence.

— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) July 26, 2017

To disrespect the brave trans & non-binary Americans who’ve devoted their lives to serving their country (& their families) is simply wrong.

— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) July 26, 2017

To all those out there who are the targets of this attack, know that your humanity is undeniable. You are valuable and deserving of respect.

— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) July 26, 2017

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:

Estimated cost of trans service members is less than a couple of Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago: https://t.co/REp21EHbii

— Sam Altman (@sama) July 26, 2017

He also retweeted Max Levchin:

Trans kids, soldiers etc need our support today and to know they are valued & respected regardless of politics. Let us not be divided.

— Max Levchin (@mlevchin) July 26, 2017

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.”

Discrimination in any form is wrong for all of us #LetThemServehttps://t.co/3cxL0fNdbv

— jack (@jack) July 26, 2017

And the other Zuckerberg weighs in:

Bastian Lehmann, CEO and cofounder of Postmates, had this to say:

Having proudly served myself: Any service member qualified to serve, should be able to. Regardless of race, color, creed or orientation.

— Bastian Lehmann (@Basti) July 26, 2017

Postmates backed him up:

We stand with #Trans service members who are protecting our communities, our right to love and our right to be free. Full stop.

— Postmates (@Postmates) July 26, 2017

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:

My thoughts exactly. https://t.co/nOGt1cnI2x

— Dennis Crowley (@dens) July 26, 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook said this:

We are indebted to all who serve. Discrimination against anyone holds everyone back. #LetThemServe

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) July 26, 2017

We’ll be updating this story with tech’s responses to today’s transgender military ban as they come in.

Featured Image: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg/Getty Images

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