by Thomas WATKINS / Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump introduced Wednesday that transgender folks could not serve “in any capacity” within the US navy, upending a key coverage from Barack Obama’s administration and drawing swift condemnation.
Announcing the most important coverage change on Twitter, Trump stated the navy needs to be centered on “overwhelming victory,” and never burdened with the “tremendous” medical costs and disruptions that transgender personnel would entail.
“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.
The announcement served as a shocking reversal for the navy, which has been working with navy heads to implement an Obama-era plan to begin accepting transgender recruits.
The earlier coverage additionally allowed trans troops already serving to take action brazenly.
Pentagon officers appeared blindsided by Trump’s tweets, with spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis referring inquiries to the White House.
The president thought the earlier transgender coverage was “disruptive,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated, and determined it eroded navy readiness and the camaraderie amongst troops.
“The decision is based on a military decision. It’s not meant to be anything more than that,” Sanders stated.
She didn’t present further particulars to Trump’s bare-bones Twitter announcement.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, presently on trip, solely discovered of Trump’s resolution Tuesday after he introduced it.
When pressed on the extent to which Trump consulted with him or the Pentagon, Davis stated: “This was something that was the product of consultation.”
Last month, Mattis stated the 5 armed service branches may delay accepting transgender recruits till January 1 to finalize some particulars.
– Unanswered questions –
Trump’s announcement left unanswered a slew of questions, together with whether or not transgender personnel presently serving could quickly face getting booted from the navy.
Sanders stated the Pentagon and the White House would work on the matter collectively and would “lawfully determine” subsequent steps.
Estimates of transgender troop numbers range broadly. A much-cited Rand Corporation research in 2016 discovered there are between 1,320 and 6,630 among the many 1.three million lively responsibility service members.
But rights teams say there are about 15,000 lively transgender troops.
The Rand research stated that solely a small portion of service members would ever search gender transition affecting their deployability or well being costs, including between $2.four million and $eight.four million to the Pentagon’s huge funds.
Republican Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler known as the research “very flawed” and stated Trump’s announcement would enhance navy readiness.
“When you have this (gender reassignment) surgery, you can’t be deployed for almost 300 days and somebody else has to go in your place,” Hartzler instructed CNN.
Transgender rights in America have more and more been within the highlight in current months, particularly over how states regulate the usage of public restrooms.
The Trump administration has confronted protests after it reversed Obama-era federal protections urging faculties to permit transgender college students to make use of the toilet similar to their gender id, not the gender on their start certificates.
– ‘Every patriotic American’ –
Trump’s announcement drew a broad backlash, with former vice chairman Joe Biden saying “every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve.”
Ash Carter, who was Obama’s final protection secretary and oversaw the coverage shift permitting transgender troops to enlist and serve brazenly, stated the choice would ship “the wrong signal” to potential new recruits.
“What matters in choosing those who serve is that they are best qualified. To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military,” Carter stated.
The American Civil Liberties Union known as the transfer “outrageous and desperate,” and Republican Senator John McCain blasted Trump for saying the coverage on Twitter.
“Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,” McCain stated.
At least 18 nations already enable transgender personnel to serve brazenly of their militaries, together with Britain, Israel and Australia.
– ‘Cowardice’ –
Perhaps essentially the most well-known transgender US soldier is former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who served seven years in jail for one of many largest dumps of categorized paperwork in US historical past.
During her incarceration in navy jail, Manning battled for — and gained — the proper to begin hormone remedy.
Manning, who remains to be employed by the Army and retains its insurance coverage protection, has change into an icon for transgender activists.
“So, biggest baddest most $$ military on earth cries about a few trans people but funds the F-35? Sounds like cowardice,” Manning tweeted after Trump’s announcement, referring to the US navy’s most costly, state-of-the-art warplane.
Retired Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, who got here out as transgender after spending 20 years with the elite commandos, challenged Trump.
“Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy,” Beck instructed Business Insider.(AFP)