The Trump administration has made it pretty clear what its position on LGBTQ issues is. So far, it has rolled back protections for transgender children and failed to officially recognize Pride Month this past June.
Now, according to the Washington Post, President Trump has announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military in any capacity via Twitter.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
This official announcement comes after a delay on the Obama administration’s decision to allow transgender people to openly serve starting July 1. Initally, the Trump administration planned to implement the Obama-era rule at the end of 2017. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was responsible for the initial delay.
At the time, Mattis said that he believed the delay “in no way presupposes the outcome,” former congressman Brad Carson believes that Mattis' move “left the door open” for Trump’s decision today. Carson played a key role in designing the Obama administrations transgender military policies.
“That being said, just from the tweets it seems as if what he is doing is rolling back already implemented policies, which will force out several hundred openly transgender service members out of the military,” said Carson. “This will be personal tragedy for them, but it will be a professional loss for the military, and it's going to invite litigation that will distract the Department of Defense for months, if not years, to come.”
The move seemed to catch the military by surprise. A Pentagon spokesperson, Navy Captain Jeff Davis referred press questions to the White House, and said, “We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future.”
Longtime gay rights activist Richard Socarides said that Trump’s decision is “a tragic betrayal of all LGBT Americans and a shameful effort to win over social conservatives at the expense of the vulnerable.” Socarides has experience with this topic, previously advising the Clinton administration regarding gay men and lesbian serving in the military.
Trump's announcement leaves the administration open to legal challenges. Past legal threats have helped to advance the LGBTQ-military cause, with one lawsuit inspiring the Obama administration to finally lift the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
Only time will tell if the courts can help the thousands of transgender troops currently serving in the armed forces to keep their jobs. What do you think about Trump’s recent announcement?