Trump Overturns Pentagon’s Transgender Policy
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is barring transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
Trump’s announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military.
The president tweeted that after consulting with “Generals and military experts,” the 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,” he added.
At the Pentagon, members of the staff of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared to have been caught unaware by Trump’s tweets.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, declined to answer questions about what Trump’s tweets mean for the current policy, including whether transgender people already serving in the military will be kicked out.
“Call the White House,” he said.
The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s decision drew immediate angry responses from groups that represent transgender service members.
Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, which represents the LGBT population in the military, said thousands have been serving in the U.S. armed forces without causing any issues.
“It’s an absolute absurdity and another overstep,” Thorn said. He threatened legal action if Wednesday’s decision is not reversed.
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Since Oct. 1, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.
Already, there are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon’s personnel system, according to several defense officials.
The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A Rand Corp. study estimated that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members on active duty and an additional 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.