On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said that he would be banning transgender people from military service.
“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,” tweeted Trump. “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. Thank you.”
There are roughly 250 people who identify as transgender openly that are serving in the military currently. According, to a 2016 RAND Corporation study, estimates of the total number of transgendered people in active duty is anywhere from 2,000 to 15,000.
The next step for them has not been made clear. But military officials are waiting on the official protocol from the White House.
“We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief on transgender individuals serving the military,” said Jeff Davis, Navy Captain. “We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that the department of defense will be working with the White House to implement the law.
“That’s something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully,” said Sanders.
Evidently, transgender and civil rights groups are already up in arms about this announcement.
“Civil rights and transgender advocacy groups denounced the policy, with some vowing to challenge it in court. Pentagon officials expressed dismay that the president’s tweets, blasted out before they could consider how to make the change, could open them to lawsuits,” writes The New York Times. “The ban would reverse the gradual transformation of the military under President Barack Obama, whose administration announced last year that transgender people could serve openly in the military. Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, also opened all combat roles to women and appointed the first openly gay Army secretary.”
“No American, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be prohibited from honor + privilege of serving our nation #LGBT,” tweeted Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) who has a transgendered son.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has been on vacation and has yet to discuss the new policy. The New York Times has speculated that he was “appalled.”
Obama lifted the ban on transgendered people serving in the military last year and then a policy was introduced by the former Defense Secretary Ash Carter where openly transgendered recruits would receive full health coverage, which included surgery and hormone therapy.
“But under the policy Carter crafted, transgender recruits weren’t allowed to enlist pending the end of a one-year implementation period. That was supposed to end July 1. But the night before the change was to go into effect, Mattis issued a six-month delay in the policy to study the issue more,” writes The Hill. “In a memo explaining the delay, Mattis insisted that his decision does not “change policies and procedures currently in effect.” Mattis also promised during his confirmation hearing that he wouldn’t reverse his predecessor’s decisions unless a service chief brings him hard evidence the policy is having a negative effect.”
This announcement was made after the House voted 209-214 against banning the Pentagon from funding transition-related health care earlier this month. Then Republicans on Tuesday night tried to introduce similar amendments, but none were given a vote on the House floor.
Several conservatives were quick to applaud Trump’s decision saying that it was the best thing to do for the military.
“President Trump’s decision today to rescind Obama’s transgender military policy has the best interests of the military in mind, and I thank him for taking this decisive action,” said Rep. Vicky Jo Hartzler (R-Mo.)
She also said she was glad that the president “shares my readiness and cost concerns,” and “will be changing this costly and damaging policy.”
Author’s note: Although there are only 250 people who are openly transgender and receiving healthcare, what if all the 2,000 -15,000 came out and started to receive wildly expensive treatments and surgeries? This would add up to millions quickly.