President Trump in a series of tweets Wednesday morning 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 president’s tweets came only a few weeks after Defense Secretary James Mattis said he would give military chiefs another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services will affect the “readiness or lethality” of the force. The deadline for that review was Dec. 1, 2017.
Trump’s decision marks a sharp reversal of a policy initiated under Barack Obama, in which the Pentagon ended a longtime ban on transgender people from serving openly in the military.
As a candidate, Trump cast himself as a supporter of LGBT rights and indicated he would uphold certain Obama-era policies designed to protect transgender people.
But upon taking office, Trump rescinded the Obama administration’s guidance requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
The president lifted the guidance in February, despite saying during his campaign that transgender people should use “whatever bathroom they feel is appropriate”.
His move on Wednesday comes a year after Pentagon officials lifted the ban on transgender service under Obama. In June of last year, then-defense secretary Ashton Carter announced that any transgender people already serving in the armed forced could serve openly “effective immediately”.
The military would cover the medical costs of transitioning for current service members under the new policy. And new recruits could join the military 18 months after they had transitioned gender identities.
One study, by the RAND Corporation, estimated that medical care for individuals who transition would cost roughly $3 to $4m annually. Every year, the Pentagon spends approximately $6bn on medical care for members of the armed forces.
The change occurred a year after Carter ordered the Pentagon to study the potential effects of allowing transgender people to serve on the combat readiness of the armed forces. Several outside studies had already found that reversing the ban was unlikely to have a negative impact.