President Donald Trump has announced that the government will not allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, he 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 new policy is a roll back of Obama administration-era rules that loosened restrictions on transgender people to serve in the US military, and comes just weeks after Mr Trump’s Defence secretary said that they were reviewing the issue. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in June that the Pentagon was giving the military another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services would impact its “readiness and lethality”.
Transgender people have been allowed to serve openly in the US military, receive medical care, and start formally changing their gender identity in the Pentagon’s personnel system since October. But, former Defence Secretary Ash Carter had given the military until July to develop policies around allowing people who had already identified as transgender to join the military if they met physical, medical, and other standards.
There isn’t an official tally of transgender people serving in the military, but Mr Carter quoted an estimate from the think tank Rand last year when making his decision, saying that there are around 2,450 transgender personnel in some active position in the US military. There are approximately 1.3 million active service members in the US military, and 1,510 in the Select Reserve.