President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would ban transgender people from the US military, an action appealing to some in his conservative political base but sowing confusion about the fate of thousands of transgender service members, Reuters reports.
Trump’s surprise announcement, in a series of Twitter posts, drew condemnation from rights groups and some lawmakers in both parties as discrimination with purely political motives. But it was praised by conservative activists and some Republicans.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration has not yet decided whether transgender service members already in the military would be immediately thrown out, saying the White House and Pentagon would have to work that out.
The action, reversing Democratic former President Barack Obama’s policy, halted years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“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 US Military,” Trump tweeted, without naming any of the generals or experts.
“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,” added Trump, who as a presidential candidate last year vowed to fight for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
Sanders said Trump had “extensive discussions with his national security team” and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was informed after the president made the decision on Tuesday.
“This was about military readiness,” Sanders told a briefing. “This was about unit cohesion. This was about resources within the military, and nothing more.”
Some White House officials were caught by surprise. A senior administration official said Trump had been determined to act for a while, but the question was the timing, with advisers split on whether to conduct reviews before announcing the move.
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