United States President Donald J. Trump has announced that transgender individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the military.
Trump, who took to Twitter to make the new policy known on Wednesday, said he consulted with generals and military experts before arriving at the decision. He ordered the armed forces to stop accepting transgender recruits citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.
In the string of tweets, Trump said:
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. 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. Thank you.”
This new policy comes a few weeks after Defense Secretary James Mattis gave military chiefs six months to conduct a review to determine whether the presence of transgender individuals in the armed services affects its “readiness or lethality”.
The new policy also reverses one made by former President Barack Obama who just last year, allowed transgender individuals serve openly in the US military.
Trump did not specify what would happen to the 4,000 transgender individuals already in the U.S. military.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, said the president will work the Defense Department to “lawfully determine” the fate of transgender personnel.
When asked why Trump was going against an election-campaign promise to support the transgender community, Ms. Sanders said Trump felt his decision was “the best one for the military.”
Reactions To Transgender Individuals Ban
Trump’s action drew mixed reactions although a majority of lawmakers and human rights groups have condemned the move.
Sen. John McCain slammed Trump for taking up such a serious issue on Twitter. He added that anyone who is fit to serve in the military should be allowed to do so.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s decision a “cruel and arbitrary decision designed to humiliate transgender Americans.”
Republican Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said:
“No American, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be prohibited from the honor + privilege of serving our nation.”
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire said:
“Thousands of transgender service members defend our country. They’re patriots & should be applauded not discriminated against by Pres Trump.”
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said:
“I know transgender service members and vets who have done more to serve their country than @realdonaldtrump has in his entire life.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality in a written statement said:
“This is worse than don’t ask don’t tell. This is don’t serve, don’t serve.”
“It’s an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand.”
In support of the decision, the Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released a statement praising Trump’s action.
“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities – and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.”
“The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.”
Representative Steve King from Iowa said:
“We don’t need to be experimenting with the military. Plus there’s no reason to take on that kind of financial burden.”