Early Wednesday morning President Trump announced a new policy banning transgender people from serving in the military.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and distruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
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
This policy is a fantastic rejection of the military policy under President Barack Obama, who repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy about homosexual service members. Under Obama, the military arguably became a “progressive” social experiment.
Obama also decided to let transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines serve openly. RAND Corp., which helped the Defense Department study the issue, estimated there are 2,500 transgender service members currently on active duty and 1,500 in the reserves.
In June, Defense Secretary James Mattis approved a recommendation by the service chiefs to delay the acceptance of transgender applicants into the military until Jan. 1, 2018.
Trump’s action also followed a Congressional move this month to preserve gender reassignment treatment for transgender people. On July 14, 24 Republicans joined House Democrats to block an amendment that would have eliminated transgender services to members of the military.
Perhaps the most notorious example of transgender soldiers is former intelligence analyst Brad Manning, who goes by “Chelsea.” Manning was convicted for espionage, and came out as transgender while in prison. Trump tweeted that she was a “TRAITOR,” but Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in the final days of his term. Read more about the case here.
Trump will face a great deal of criticism for this decision, but he deserves praise for putting the military’s capacity to achieve victory ahead of “progressive” social programs.
The move may seem a bit of a surprise from Trump, who sided with transgender people on the bathroom issue last year. While he has signed an executive order championing religious freedom, Trump has proven a moderate on social issues, reportedly influenced in the other direction by his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.
Expect angry LGBT advocates, happy social conservatives, and a robust debate going forward.