Trump Transgender

Activists and protesters with the National Center for Transgender Equality rally in front of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Washington, after the Department of Education and the Justice Department announce plans to overturn the school guidance on protecting transgender students. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Hours after President Donald Trump called for a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military "in any capacity," the leader of the Charleston County Democratic Party urged one Republican in particular to condemn the move.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Charleston County Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan asked Charleston County Republican Party Chairman Larry Kobrovsky to "put country and patriotism above party."

"We believe that any person who completes military training and is willing to defend our nation should be allowed to serve," Charleston County Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan said in a statement. "We renounce this unpatriotic move and call on Larry Kobrovsky, Chairman of the Republican Party in Charleston, to denounce this action."

Quirk-Garvan, who is serving his second term as chairman, told The Post and Courier he turned his focus on a fellow local leader because they wield a unique kind of power that the president does not.

"It's important for us here in Charleston to deal with these issues on our own terms. It's not just existing in a vacuum nationally," Quirk-Garvan said. "We know Donald Trump has a big megaphone and support from local leaders, so for them to stand up and speak out says something."

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump said the military must be focused on what he called "decisive and overwhelming victory." He continued by saying, the military "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."

Kobrovsky said the ban is about the military not, as he put it, "social engineering."

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"Being transgender takes a special kind of courage. People treat you differently, but that's not what the military is about," Kobrovsky said by phone. "The sole purpose of the military is to defend our country and keep us safe."

The ban would reverse an Obama administration decision that allows transgender individuals to serve openly in the armed forces. Since October, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.

Pointing this out, Kobrovsky said the issue is relatively new but the strength of the U.S. military is not. 

"What President Trump is doing is restoring the same law that was in effect for 95 percent of Obama's presidency and Bill Clinton's, too," he said. "This is a military decision. All the other factors don't matter."

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.

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