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Trump's transgender announcement draws bipartisan opposition from ND politicians

Then-candidate Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 presidential campaign at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, N.D. File photo / Forum News Service

BISMARCK—President Donald Trump's announcement that transgender people will be barred from serving in the U.S. military drew bipartisan opposition from top North Dakota politicians Wednesday, July 26.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., argued in a statement that "individuals who meet the readiness requirements for serving in the United States military should be able to continue to serve our country." He said he agreed with fellow Republican Sens. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Joni Ernst, a military veteran, both of whom expressed objections to Trump's announcement.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a consistent Trump defender, called the president's move an "unnecessary prohibition," but added that the military shouldn't be a "social experiment" and said people shouldn't go into it in order to get a "taxpayer-funded sex change."

"The military, in my mind, is for two things: preventing killing and killing. And every person who goes into it needs to be prepared to do everything they can to the best of their ability to do that," Cramer said. "And if they're transgender, they're transgender."

A White House spokeswoman said the administration hasn't decided whether to immediately throw out transgender service members already in the military. Trump said his decision, which reverses the policy of former President Barack Obama, was based on consultation with generals and military experts.

"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," Trump said on Twitter.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said it was "deeply unfortunate" that the Republican president made the announcement through a series of tweets Wednesday morning. She called it a "cavalier" way of relaying news that could affect thousands of service members and suggested the move was motivated by politics.

"If a service member can do the job and is willing, they should be able to serve—and they should be able to be open about who they are," Heitkamp said in a statement.

Republican Gov. Doug Burgum's spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the North Dakota National Guard will continue to follow laws set by Congress as well as guidance from the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau. As for Trump's tweets, Nowatzki said "the governor doesn't agree with the president on that topic."

Reuters contributed to this report. Call Hageman at (701) 255-5607 or send email to

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

(701) 255-5607