COLUMBIA, Mo. - On Wednesday, local transgender Army veterans and demonstrators across the nation spoke out against President Donald Trump's announcement that transgender people will now be barred from serving in the U.S. military.
The announcement reverses a policy approved under former President Barack Obama.
"Just over a year now transgender people were able to openly serve, so thousands of transgender people came out openly," said Cathy Serino, a Missouri Army veteran. "Now that this came out, all those thousands of people that came out are going to end up getting thrown out."
"Now, as a transgender person I'm not allowed? Now my career is ruined because of this?" questioned Michelle Daytona, also a military veteran. "What kind of commander in chief does that to his own soldiers?"
In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, the president said, "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."
The announcement echoes statements Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler made last month when she proposed, then withdrew an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
"The deployability of individuals going through the sex transition process is highly problematic, requiring 210 to 238 work days where a soldier is non-deployable after surgery," said Hartzler. "It makes no sense to purposely recruit individuals who cannot serve."
Since the announcement, demonstrators have taken to the streets in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
On Wednesday night, several hundred demonstrators gathered at a plaza named for late San Francisco gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Some waved pink and blue flags, and held signs reading "Trans lives are not a burden" and chanted "Stand up! Fight back!"
"These are soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors who are risking their lives, their way of life to protect you who are not serving," said Daytona.
Right now, it's unclear what will happen to transgender individuals currently serving in the military.
"That's something that the Department of Defense and White House will have to work together as implementation takes place," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "This was a military decision, this was about military readiness, this was about unit cohesion, this was about resources with the military and nothing more."