In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military “in any capacity”:
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 abrupt — and unforeseen — policy shift comes after the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines requested a six-month delay before instituting a policy that would have allowed transgender people to enlist in the armed services.
Under former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the military was set to begin accepting transgender service members on July 1 as the result of an Obama-era policy established in June 2016.
When the military leaders requested the delay, they argued that more time was needed to study the issue and determine the impact such a change would have on the readiness of the forces.
Since October, transgender troops already in the military have been able to receive medical care and begin formally transitioning to their desired gender identities in the Pentagon’s database. As it stands, there are roughly 250 service members in the process of transitioning.
It is not yet clear how Trump’s policy announcement will impact those already in the military.
The president’s shift comes not long after the Army announced that embattled transgender Pvt. Chelsea Manning will remain on active duty after being released from a federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 17.
At the time, it was reported that Manning, who was born male, would receive military benefits — including health care.
In the final days of his administration, former President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s prison sentence. The 29-year-old soldier previously served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq before being sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking thousands of classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks in 2013.