On Wednesday, President Trump banned transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. Chelsea Manning's response to Trump's trans ban was savage in her unique wisdom, especially as one of the most prominent trans members of the military. Manning responded to critics with fierce optimism for the long fight for trans rights ahead. Manning was released from prison in May, having served seven years out of a 35-year sentence for leaking diplomatic cables and other secret government documents to the Wikileaks website. Since then, she has been readjusting to civilian life, documenting her experiences on Twitter and Instagram.
When news of Trump's trans ban broke, Manning responded almost immediately on Twitter, calling out Trump's reasoning for the ban. Trump cited "tremendous medical costs and disruption" as the primary reasons for enacting the ban on transgender people from the military in his tweets Wednesday morning. While not specifically mentioning Manning by name, those "tremendous medical costs" were likely in reference to Manning's fight to receive hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery while in military prison. Her fight to receive the medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria paved the way for requiring the military to provide some treatment for trans military members.
According to USA Today, gender reassignment surgeries could cost the U.S. military from $2.4 million to as much as $8.4 million a year. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that U.S. defense spending was $600 billion in 2015. These "tremendous medical costs" would account for — at most — slightly more than one-tenth of a percent of the entire defense budget.
Manning's first response to Trump's trans ban referenced a February order by the Department of Defense for 90 F-35 stealth fighter jets. More than $100 billion taxpayer dollars — yes, billion with a "b" — has already been spent on the F-35 project. Even though manufacturer Lockheed Martin reduced the F-35 package price to $8.5 billion in February after Trump's public whining about the cost, the fulfillment of the F-35 program is estimated to cost as much as an additional $1.7 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office. Manning rightly called out the president for his total bullsh*t excuse to ban trans people from the military.
Manning's positivity felt almost effortless, as she promptly responded to transphobic critics on her Twitter feed and tagged her tweets with #WeGotThis. In addition to retweeting resources for trans individuals impacted by Wednesday's announcement, Manning called for the funding of healthcare for all Americans after Tuesday night's disastrous ACA repeal vote.
Manning's perfectly positive and yet resilient tweets joined a chorus of other leaders and celebrities responding to Trump's trans military ban. The fight ahead is going to be long and weary — as have been many of the fights against the Trump administration, but as Manning reminds everyone: We got this.