Tech leaders step up to challenge Trump ban on transgender military personnel

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan July 26, 2017
Another day, another clash between US President Trump and leaders from the tech sector, this time around equality and the decision to ban transgendered people from serving their country in the military.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the UK government’s partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, the first step on a long journey of LGBTQ rights that still has a way to go, but one on which the direction of travel has remained forward-looking.

Sadly yesterday saw the US government set out in the opposite direction on its own version of the journey as President Trump announced, via Twitter of course, that he has decided that no transgendered individual will be allowed to serve in any capacity in the American military services.

It’s a horribly retrogressive step, albeit one that’s perhaps unsurprising given the GOP’s seeming obsession with who gets to use bathrooms, and one that has already earned cross-the-aisle opprobium from the likes of former Vice President Joe Biden and US war hero Senator John McCain:


What’s this got to do with a website focusing on digital transformation and the technology enterprise? Well, not a lot directly, other than that it’s important to reaffirm our absolute and unequivocal commitment to diversity and equality and to recognise, with some pride, that tech leaders have once again risen to challenge such naked discrimination as this ruling.

We saw it with the battles around the bathrooms, when the likes of current Vice President Mike Pence was Governor of Indiana and was forced to back down from so-called Religious Freedom measures that took away LGBTQ rights. The tech industry rallied then - and it seems to be doing so again.

Among the first out of the gate was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who simply stated:


Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Box’s Aaron Levie and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff all added their voices via Twitter:





One of the more interesting additions to the protests came from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Earlier in the day, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that Cook had promised him that Apple would build “three big plants, beautiful plants” in America. Cook made no comment on this, but did take to Twitter to object to the military discrimination:


That’s unlikely to have been the Twitter post Trump wanted to see yesterday, but it’s another example of an ongoing issue facing many in Silicon Valley. We’ve highlighted the contentious relationship between the Trump administration and the tech sector, as well as flagged up the problem of ‘squaring the circle’ when it comes to taking a stand versus potentially losing out on commercial opportunities. Some speak up; others are sadly eloquent in their silence.

I don’t think I have anything fresh to add at this point to those arguments that could be articulated better than it is in these Twitter posts by my long-standing friend and colleague James Governor of analyst firm Redmonk: