Summary: President Donald Trump announced on Twitter today that he would no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. armed forces.
“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,” Trump said in three tweets from his personal account @realDonaldTrump.
Conservative blogger Matt Walsh commended the decision, stating that “mentally ill” individuals should not be allowed to serve, and the Family Research Council also praised Trump.
“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,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in a statement to Fox News. “The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.”
While Trump’s decision pleased some conservatives, other prominent Republicans such as Senator John McCain expressed disapproval.
“We should be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so – and should be treated as the patriots they are,” McCain said in a statement.
Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa who served in the Iowa National Guard, said that taxpayers should not pay for gender-reassignment surgery but that anyone who was qualified to serve in the military should be allowed the opportunity.
Trump’s decision reverses a 2016 policy that was initially approved by the Department of Defense when President Barack Obama was in office. The Department of Defense was about to finalize the review onto whether transgender people should be allowed to openly serve in the armed forces, but according to Politico, advisor Steve Bannon played a key role in reinstating the ban.
Trump stated that the cost of transgender personnel was one reason for the ban, but according to CNN, transgender-related costs in the military healthcare budget was only 0.004-0.017%.
Last month, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that he wanted to review whether or not trans troops should be allowed to serve openly. His Obama-era predecessor, Ash Carter, had laid out a plan regarding transgender people in the military, but Mattis said he wanted six months in order to examine the impact of the change.
“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?” Mattis said in a memo from June. “Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the Military Services.”
Mattis had not yet released his conclusion on the effects of trans personnel in the military when Trump made his announcement. The American Civil Liberties Union said that there are no drawbacks to allowing trans individuals in the military and said that it was prepared to fight our 45th president’s decision.
“Let us be clear. This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country. The President is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of military personnel who have put their lives on the line for their country,” Joshua Block, the senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, told CNN.
Currently, there are 15,000 active transgender service people in the military, according to Politico.
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