President Donald J. Trump announced a ban on transgender people from the United States military, a reversal from former President Barack Obama’s late-term policy allowing transgender officers to serve openly. The ban sparked a backlash from rights groups.
Mr. Trump tweeted on Wednesday that the government will no longer “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” for financial reasons, related to medical costs what Mr. Trump believes transgender people would entail.
The announcement came at a time when Congress has been discussing nearly $700 billion budget for the Pentagon, including the portion of spending on transgender medical costs. Rep. Vicky Hartzler from Missouri (R) had already proposed an amendment to bar Pentagon from covering medical treatments related to gender transition over cost concerns. On Twitter, Mrs. Hartzler expressed appreciation for the president’s decision.
A study by Research and Development (RAND) Corporation found that the medical cost would only have a tiny effect on the overall budget of Pentagon since only 2,450 out of 1.3 million active duty members are transgenders.
President Trump’s decision has been depicted as an attempt to increase his support among traditional conservative lawmakers at a time when his administration finds itself entangled in lingering Russia investigation.
The Republican Party, however, did not throw its complete weight behind Mr. Trump’s controversial decision. Senator John McCain of Arizona (R), an army veteran, criticized the president’s decision and called the ban “unclear.”
“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,” CNN quoted Mr. McCain as saying on Wednesday.
Rights groups have also expressed outrage at the move.
Joshua Black, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV project, blamed the president for rejecting transgender people’s basic human rights and stated that the U.S. deserves a better commander-in-chief rather than Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump’s latest move stands in contrast to his electoral campaign promise to fight for transgender people. “I will fight for you,” Mr. Trump declared during his electoral campaign.