President Trump just announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military this past Wednesday.
The president made the declaration on Twitter, New York Times reported, saying that American forces could not afford the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members.
He said he had consulted generals and military experts, but Jim Mattis, the defense secretary about the decision.
Trump elected to announce the ban in order to resolve a quietly brewing fight on Capitol Hill over whether taxpayer money should pay for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members.
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According to North Carolina Public Radio the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump made this decision during a briefing on Wednesday afternoon “after extensive discussions with his national security team to end this Obama policy,” which she called “expensive and disruptive.”
The Pentagon had lifted the ban on transgender service members in June 2016.
The president “came to the conclusion that it erodes military readiness and unit cohesion and made his decision based on that,” said Sarah Sanders, adding that the White House and the Pentagon will work together to implement the new policy “lawfully,” including what it will mean for current transgender service members.
“It’s obviously a very difficult decision, not a simple one, but the president thinks it’s the best one for the military,” she said.
“When the president made the decision yesterday, the secretary of defense was immediately informed, as was the rest of the national security team,” said Sanders, responding to reports that the Pentagon had been caught off-guard by the announcement. “Once he made the decision, he didn’t think it was necessary to hold that decision.”
Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the president’s tweets are “yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”
“The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today,” McCain said.
“Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military —regardless of their gender identity.”
McCain added that Pentagon is conducting a study on “the medical obligations it would incur, the impact on military readiness and related questions” associated with the enlistment of transgender people not yet in the military.
“I do not believe that any new policy decision is appropriate until that study is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the Secretary of Defense, our military leadership, and the Congress,” he said.
Trump’s announcement comes exactly 69 years after President Harry Truman issued an executive order desegregating the military.
The Human Rights Campaign immediately tweeted its disapproval. “Threatening 15K currently serving troops who put their lives at risk is unpatriotic and dangerous,” the LGBTQ rights organization said.