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Should transgender Americans be allowed in the military? Let them fight: Trump's ban was mean-spirited and bigoted

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is denying transgender Americans the opportunity to serve in the military because of who they are. This was simply absurd. Transgender Americans are citizens of this country and have the right to pursue any career path they want. Setting aside that fact is damaging to our nation. And using the excuse that the cost of care is the reason for this discrimination is worse than damaging. It's mean-spirited and bigoted.

Absolutely no one benefits from marginalizing people who want to protect our country. Transgender people are just that: people. Some are bakers; some are teachers; some are soldiers. I am a doctor.

The tragedy of this policy is the direct impact it will have on young people who already face the challenges of stigma in their everyday lives. This is our president saying to young people struggling to find themselves that they are not accepted, respected or needed.

Transgender Americans are vulnerable to discrimination, harassment and violence. Repealing protections agreed to by our military and society will have tragic consequences. Denying those who wish to serve the opportunity to better themselves, their families, and their communities will negatively affect all of us.

The Department of Defense and U.S. military leadership already have invested in changes to include transgender Americans to openly serve our country. It is a travesty at this late date for the president to suddenly reverse course and further stigmatize an already-vulnerable population.

For those who feel left behind or confused right now, know that you do not fight alone. We will not stop our battle against inequality until everyone has the same opportunities to work and live without fear.

Dr. Rachel Levine is the acting secretary of health and physician general of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She wrote this originally for the Philadelphia Inquirer.