WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a stunning announcement, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced an immediate reversal on former president Barack Obama’s policy which allowed transgendered persons to serve in the U.S. military.
In a series of tweets posted to his official Twitter account, the president wrote:
“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. 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.”
The announcement quickly caused a wave of backlash from members of the LGBTQ community who called the announcement an offense to transgendered individuals.
“This is worse than don’t ask don’t tell, this is don’t serve, don’t serve,” The National Center for Transgender Equality said in a written statement. “This is an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand.”
However, the announcement was met with high praise from pro-family and pro-military groups who felt the Obama era policy was harmful to active military members and promoted the wrong priorities.
“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities – and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in a statement. “The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.”
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) was also quick to praise the president’s decision.
“Pleased to hear that @realDonaldTrump shares my readiness and cost concerns, & will be changing this costly and damaging policy #readiness,” Hartzler wrote on Twitter upon hearing the news.
Many believe the decision to reverse the controversial policy was fueled by tough talking Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who last month delayed the review of the Obama mandate that allowed transgender people to join the military.
In a statement in June, Mattis approved a recommendation to defer the decision to allow transgender individuals to join the military, a policy known more commonly as accession. “The services will review their accession plans and provide input on the impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces,” the statement read.
Mattis was asked during his confirmation hearing in January whether he would move to ban openly gay and transgendered from service on the basis that their presence somehow makes the military seem less lethal.
“Frankly, senator, I’ve never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,” Mattis responded, but refused to comment as to whether or not he felt their presence eroded the military’s image.
In a statement from The Pentagon, Capt. Jeff Davis refused to comment on the president’s announcement of reversal and deferred all questions on the new policy to The White House.
“We refer all questions about the President’s statements to the White House,” a statement from Davis read. “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. We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future.”
A 2016 study by Rand Corp. estimated that approximately 6,630 transgender individuals were actively serving in the U.S. military. The total force is about 1.3 million. Under the Obama mandate, any transgendered person who chose to have gender reassignment surgery would be provided treatment and said surgery on the tax payer’s dime.
Prior to the Obama mandate, the Pentagon banned transgender troops from openly serving in the military. Any transgendered person who intentionally revealed their transgender service would be discharged or denied reenlistment.