Updated July 26 at 3:31 pm EST
President Trump has announced that transgender Americans will not be allowed to serve “in any capacity” in the U.S. military, a move that could affect thousands of people serving in the armed forces and which resulted in almost immediate pushback from influential Republicans.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that the U.S. 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.”
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced last June that transgender individuals would be able to serve openly in the military. He issued guidance for medical care for these soldiers—including those who transitioned during their service—as well as training military leaders. Since then, it has been the military’s policy not to discharge or deny reenlistment to service members based solely on their gender identity. The full policy was set to be implemented by July 1, 2017. But at the end of June, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced a six-month delay to review the plan, assessing whether it would hurt the “readiness or lethality” of American troops.
Trump’s announcement is the latest in a set of steps his administration has taken to walk back Obama-era policies on transgender Americans. The biggest shift is the reasoning: Rather than framing his decision in the language of rights or morality, as Obama-era officials did, Trump spoke about the new transgender policy in terms of military efficiency. The decision is likely to trigger major blowback from Democratic legislators and LGBT activists who long pushed for full acceptance of transgender service members. It will also bring gender identity back into the spotlight, reigniting a culture-war debate surrounding a president who has tried to sell himself as a friend of LGBT rights.