Clark Mindock New York
Donald Trump has effectively banned transgender people from serving in the US military, blaming the “medical costs and disruption” they would cause.
The President made the announcement in a series of three tweets, saying: “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 US 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.”
The new policy is a roll back of Obama administration-era rules that loosened restrictions on transgender people to serve in the US military, and comes just weeks after Mr Trump’s Defence secretary said that they were reviewing the issue. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in June that the Pentagon was giving the military another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services would impact its “readiness and lethality”.
While the Pentagon did not immediately have a statement or press release available following Mr Trump’s Twitter announcement, the organisation later indicated that it would “work closely” with the White House on the policies in the “near future”. The Pentagon later referred all questions to the White House.
Details around what Mr Trump’s Twitter announcement means were also not immediately available.
The Department of Defence, at the time of Mr Trump’s announcement, did not reflect new policies.
Transgender people have been allowed to serve openly in the US military, receive medical care, and start formally changing their gender identity in the Pentagon’s personnel system since October. But, former Defence Secretary Ash Carter had given the military until July to develop policies around allowing people who had already identified as transgender to join the military if they met physical, medical, and other standards.
Military chiefs had argued that they needed more time to assess policy, and requested an extension of six months past July.
There isn’t an official tally of transgender people serving in the military, but Mr Carter quoted an estimate from the think tank Rand last year when making his decision, saying that there are around 2,450 transgender personnel in some active position in the US military. Other groups like the Transgender American Veterans Association, American Military Partner Association, and OutServe-SLDN have said that the figure is higher at 15,500 transgender personnel in the military.
There are approximately 1.3 million active service members in the US military, and 1,510 in the Select Reserve.