Trump bans transgender people from the US military

US President Donald Trump has announced that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve in America’s military.

The President made the announcement via a series of early morning Twitter posts, but did not clarify when the ban would be implemented and how it would affect thousands of transgender people currently serving in the forces.

President Trump said transgender people burdened the military with ‘tremendous medical costs and disruption’. Trump said the armed forces needed to be focused on ‘creating decisive and overwhelming victories’.

The decision to announce the new policy via social media has been widely criticized even from people within the President’s own party. Republican senator Roy Blunt said the issue deserved more than a Twitter conversation.

Senator John McCain, who is the chair of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, responded to the President’s announcement saying it was another example of why major policy announcements should not be made by Twitter.

Senator McCain criticized the announcement saying that the President had not been clear in how the ban would be implemented. McCain said it made no sense for people who are combat ready and currently serving in the military to be removed.

Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch said he disagreed with the new policy. “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the policy the president tweeted today.”

The announcement immediately created uncertainty for transgender people currently serving in the military. At a press briefing the President’s new Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was unable to provide any additional detail on how the newly announced policy would be implemented.

Besieged by questions on the issue, Huckabee Sanders threatened to end the briefing unless reporters moved on the other topics.

The Press Secretary said President Trump found that transgender people in the military were “expensive and disruptive” and that they “erode military readiness and unit cohesion.”

She said the Pentagon would work with the White House to ensure that the ban was introduced legally and that defended the decision saying the President was working for the best interests of the military.

Pentagon officials however are not responding to questions from the media about the new policy, instead referring all inquiries back to The White House.

The policy change reverses a decision introduced by former Democrat President Barrack Obama who in 2016 paved the way for transgender people to serve openly in the military.

The Obama administration’s decision allowed transgender people already in the military to be open about their gender, while also setting a 1 July 2017 date for transgender people to enlist. That deadline was pushed back under the Trump administration, and now has been completed reversed.

The President’s claim that the inclusion of transgender people in the military causes disruption and expensive costs is not backed up by a report released by the Pentagon. A May 2016 report found that allowing transgender people to service openly would have little impact on military readiness or cohesion, and costs were negligible.

The report also found that in 18 countries where transgender people are permitted to serve in the armed forces there had been little impact on military effectiveness.

There are no official numbers on how many transgender people are currently enlisted in the US military and reserves. Some studies have estimated it could be as high as 15,000 people.

Mara Keisling from the  National Centre for Transgender Equality in the USA described the decision as an  appalling attack on service members.

“It is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand,” she said.

“The President wants to discard thousands of trained and skilled troops who are already serving honorably and done nothing but be honest about who they are.

“To turn away qualified recruits simply because of who they are is a shameful way to show our country’s gratitude to the people who serve our country.” Keisling said.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the President was scoring cheap political points at the expense of people who had put their lives on the line for the USA. Joshua Block an attorney with the group said the transgender service members deserved better.

“The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander-in-chief who rejects their basic humanity,” Block said.“The President is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of military personnel who have put their lives on the line for their country.”

The decision has also drawn wide criticism from people in the entertainment industry. High profile transgender advocate, who up until this point has been a vocal supporter of President Trump, condemned the decision.

Jenner said the idea was ‘half baked’ and ‘devastating’ for those already serving in the military. Jenner said the President should immediately reverse the decision.

“My father, William Jenner, landed on Omaha Beach in WWII, and his bravery and service to his country has always inspired me and helped make me the person I am today. America’s 15,000 trans service members and 134,000 veterans are much braver than you, Mr. Trump; my allegiance is with them and our country, not you.” Jenner declared.

The President’s policy reversal has been welcomed by conservative groups. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council said the decision to ban transgender people would allow the military to focus their efforts on winning wars.

“The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda,” Perkins said in a statement.

The Family Research Council claims the policy would have cost billions of dollars, and would have caused a distraction for troops.

“As our nation faces serious national security threats, our troops shouldn’t be forced to endure hours of transgender ‘sensitivity’ classes and politically-correct distractions like this one.” Perkins said.

OIP Staff

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