“The United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” President Trump announced in a series of tweets this morning.
The ban on transgender people serving openly in the military was ended in 2016 by Ash Carter, the Defense secretary that served under the Obama administration.
Trump’s announcement reinstates the ban following the decision by James Mattis, the current Secretary of Defense, to delay implementation of Carter’s policy, stating that more time was needed to asses if allowing transgender persons to serve in the military was a good idea, according to CNN.
“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 last month.
He continued, “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.”
In 2016, the Defense Department commissioned Rand Corp to do a study to determine the impact of allowing transgender individuals to serve openly would have, and it was concluded that the it would have a “minimal impact” on health care costs and readiness due to there being relatively few trans people in the service.
Gregory Angelo, president of conservative LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans said Trump’s decision “smacsk of politics, pure and simple.”
“The United States military already includes transgender individuals who protect our freedom day in and day out,” Angelo said. “Excommunicating transgender soldiers only weakens our readiness; it doesn’t strengthen it.”
The Huffington Post reports that Republicans have been pushing for this decision. Vice President Mike Pence has been working to get Congress to roll back the Defense Department’s policy to cover medical procedures for transitioning services, and earlier this week House Republicans submitted three separate but identical amendments to the 2018 defense spending bill prohibiting the Pentagon from using government funds to provide gender transition-related medical treatment.
LGBT Advocacy groups have expressed their frustration with the reinstated ban, with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union calling the decision “outrageous and desperate.”
“Let us be clear,” Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV project said. “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.”
Block continued, “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.”
This decision by Trump goes back on his campaign rhetoric to the LGBT community according to CNN, when he said he would be a strong defender to the community and be a better president to LGBT individuals than his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Representative Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, the vice chair of the congressional LGBT caucus called Trump’s decision a “slap in the face to the thousands of transgender Americans already serving in the military.”
Kildee continued, “Anyone who is willing to put on the uniform of the United States and risk their life in service to our country should be celebrated as patriots, regardless of their gender identity. This short-sighted and discriminatory policy will make America less safe.”