Trump Announces Ban On Transgender People Serving In Military

President Donald Trump speaks at a luncheon with GOP leadership, Wednesday, July 19, 2017 in the State Dinning Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. government will not let transgender individuals serve in the military “in any capacity,” citing conversations he’s had with generals and experts.

In a series of tweets, the President said the 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.”

If his tweets are followed up with any type of formal policy, the move would reverse an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender individuals to serve openly and blocked a person from being discharged from the military solely because they are a transgender, according to policy on the Department of Defense’s website.

The President’s announcement comes after a six-month delay was placed on what was suppose to be the implementation of this policy at the beginning of July.

When the delay was announced Defense Secretary James Mattis said it would not change the policy that lets transgender people openly serve.

Conservative lawmakers praised the delay and pushed to block the policy, arguing that allowing transgender people to serve would require millions to be added to the military’s budget if the government had to fund transgender-related surgeries.

Estimates on how many transgender people serve in the military vary. A 2014 report from the Williams Institute suggests that about 15,000 transgender individuals are serving in active duty and more than 130,000 are veterans or retired from active duty. The National Center for Transgender Equality claims similar estimates.

However, RAND Corporation produced a report in 2016, which was commissioned by the Pentagon, that estimated about 2,450 transgender people are among active duty troops. That same study predicted it would cost the government about $2.9 to $4.2 million a year to fund hormone therapy and surgeries.

The President’s statement this morning contradicts previous support he has given the LGBT community. Last year, he tweeted that he would “fight” for that community while his presidential opponent “brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

 The first daughter has also been vocal about his support of LGBT folks. Just last month, Ivanka Trump thanked “LGBTQ Americans” for their “immense contributions to our society and economy.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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