Order on transgender troops could shake up service academies

On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that his administration would roll back previous guidelines that allowed transgender individuals to openly serve in the military.

“[P]lease 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 announced in a tweet. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail.”

It is unclear what impact this policy could have on U.S. service academies and other military programs, several of which either have or formerly had transgender students enrolled.

Even the fate for transgender troops currently serving is unclear, though many read it as the impending end of service for those currently serving as openly transgender. When pressed during Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary, was vague on what the president’s directive would entail, saying that the White House and the Department of Defense “will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully.”

When asked about a timeline for a new guidance from the White House on transgender service members, Sanders did not have an estimate. 

The uncertainty about what the new order means extends to service academies and Reserve Officer Training Corps programs at non-military colleges, though it generally points toward a reversal for transgender hopefuls. Previously the Department of Defense was working toward a policy set to be in place by July 2018 to determine how it would accommodate transgender troops. The policy read, in part:

The gender identity of an otherwise qualified individual will not bar them from joining the military, from admission to our Service Academies, or from participating in ROTC or any other accession…

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