Trump tweets transgender people to be banned from military
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would ban transgender people from the U.S. military, an action appealing to some in his conservative political base but sowing confusion about the fate of thousands of transgender service members.
Trump’s announcement, in a series of Twitter posts, drew swift condemnation from rights groups and some lawmakers in both parties as “raw prejudice” with purely political motives.
But it was praised by conservative activists and some Republicans.
The Republican president’s tweets offered no details on how the ban – reversing Democratic former President Barack Obama’s policy – would be implemented.
“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,” Trump wrote in a series of Twitter posts, without naming any of the generals or experts.
“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,” added Trump, who as a presidential candidate last year vowed to fight for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
The Pentagon referred questions about Trump’s decision to the White House.
The announcement at least temporarily changed the subject in Washington with his administration mired in investigations into his presidential campaign’s contacts with Russia and struggling to win approval of any major legislation.
Wednesday was not the first time Trump has targeted transgender people since he took office in January. The Republican president in February rescinded protections for transgender students put in place by Obama that had let them use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
The Senate’s most prominent veteran, Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain, called Trump’s announcement “unclear” and inappropriate given an ongoing Pentagon study on the issue.
“I do not believe that any new policy decision is appropriate until that study is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the Secretary of Defence, our military leadership, and the Congress,” said McCain, a Navy pilot and prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council advocacy group, was among those praising the announcement. “Our troops shouldn’t be forced to endure hours of transgender ‘sensitivity’ classes and politically correct distractions,” he said.
Trump’s action halted years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Pentagon last year announced it was ending its ban on transgender people serving openly, with officials calling the prohibition outdated.
The Defence Department had been expected to start allowing transgender people to begin enlisting this year. But Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on June 30 approved a six-month delay in allowing transgender recruits to join the military.
Obama’s defence secretary, Ash Carter, last year cited a study by the RAND Corporation think tank saying there were about 2 500 transgender active-duty service members and 1 500 reserve transgender service members. (Reuters)