Announcing the policy change, President Trump said:
“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 represents an abrupt departure from former President Barack Obama, who last year instructed then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to lift the ban on transgender military service.
Two weeks ago Congress narrowly rejected a proposal that would have rejected the Obama-era practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for gender transition surgeries. The bill was defeated 214-209 as 24 Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-R) who introduced the measure, estimated that transition surgeries could cost the military 1.3 billion over the next 10 years.
Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, praised the President’s decision: “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. The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda… The last thing we should be doing is diverting billions of dollars from mission-critical training to something as controversial as gender reassignment surgery.”
Bradley Manning, the transgender soldier convicted for violations under the Espionage Act for disclosing nearly 75,000 classified/sensitive military documents, responded to the decision on Twitter, saying: “So, biggest baddest most $$ military on earth cries about a few trans people but funds the F-35? Sounds like cowardice.” Manning was pardoned by President Obama and released earlier this year.