President Trump's tweeted transgender military ban on July 26 drew immediate criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, who were caught unaware by the decision. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

 

It all started with a tweet, and fingers haven’t stopped punching buttons ever since.

On Wednesday morning, President Trump delivered another 140-character shocker to the world via his favorite social media outlet. In a three-tweet series, the president announced the “United States Government will not accept or allow … Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

If Trump’s aim here was to hijack the national conversation away from the Russia probe or his deteriorating relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions — mission accomplished. The administration has offered few details on the trans ban — no concrete policy; no government savings forecasts; no next steps. That lack of concrete information about the president’s intentions has left a vacuum, and outrage and approval from the online gallery has been pouring in.

The transgender movement has found an increasingly larger foothold in the mainstream thanks to celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox. Both chimed in, voicing their disapproval with the measure. Another high-profile transgender woman and military vet, Chelsea Manning, also offered her thoughts. The former U.S. Army soldier pointed to the inherent stupidity of a deep-pocketed military banning transgender soldiers due to budget concerns. Lady Gaga, one of pop culture’s more vocal advocates on gender and sexual equality, also reached for the 140-character-mic to speak her piece.

The Internet also did not miss the contrast between the values and heroics of transgender members of the military and a president whose own moral compass has been questioned. Both the president’s behavior and his lack of military experience came under fire.

An unexpected feature of the #transban online discussion has been a number of transgender U.S. military veterans coming forward to share their stories of service. Individuals like Carla Lewis, Becca Benz and Shari Zabel now are known to more Americans thanks to the larger platform.

Another pervasive theme running through much of the Internet commentary out there was an appeal to common sense. Trump’s own decision, according to his short-burst statement, focused on preventing the burden on the military of the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” caused by the transgender lifestyle. Many Twitter users cut through the moral, economic and logical faultiness of the argument.

Late night comedians had their sardonic knives out as well. “The Daily Show” and Stephen Colbert each dropped pithy assessments of the ban, while other early hours programs went further. Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” turned his monologue over to transgender comedian Patti Harrison. And James Cordon launched his broadcast with a musical number aimed at both Trump and those impacted by the ban.

But the real critical kudos belong to our friends up north, specifically the Canadian Forces. When word of Trump’s latest move spread across the world, Canada’s military shot out a reminder that humor and grace are two qualities you’ll fine in abundance over the border.