In a snap decision formally announced on Twitter, President Trump will ban transgender troops from serving in the United States military. On Wednesday July 26, Trump tweeted, "[P]lease be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
Trump went on to claim the military can't be "burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail." Trump claims the "military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory." The announced ban follows on the tails of a week's worth of fighting with his own appointed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and defending against the ongoing Russia investigation.
It has been a busy week for President Trump, who is also attempting to pass a spending bill supportive of many of his campaign promises via House Republicans. Internally, disagreement between House Republicans over transgender troops was threatning to derail the bill's progress. A number of congress members had pushed for a ban on government-funded sex reassignment operations; and when it appeared that their votes might cost the spending bill, Trump decided to ban transgender troops altogether in an attempt to save the House proposal. This proposal, among other provisions resulting from Trump's campaign promises, allocated money to build Trump's wall on the Mexican border.
In 2016, President Barack Obama ended the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" doctrine, allowing transgender men and women to serve openly in the military. Openly transgender active members of the United States military are left wondering what Trump's decision means for their futures. Before transgender men and women could openly serve, active service members could be discharged if their transgender status was discovered.
Because transgender individuals previously had been banned from openly serving in the military, statistics on the transgender military population are not exact. A 2012 study by UCLA Law School's Williams Institute estimtaed 15,500 transgender people were serving on active duty and that there are over 134,000 transgender veterans.
LGBTQ advocacy groups reacted to the president's announcement with anger and sadness. A large number protested the ban in Times Square in New York. The ACLU reminded those upset by President Trump's announced ban that "[t]weets are not self-executing: trans people cannot simply be thrown out of the military because of this tweet." But, the ACLU is watching; the organization later tweeted, "Until those rules are changed, trans people can serve openly. If those rules are changed, we stand ready to take legal action."
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