WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump abruptly declared a ban Wednesday on transgender troops serving anywhere in the U.S. military, catching the Pentagon flat-footed and unable to explain what it called Trump’s “guidance.” His proclamation, on Twitter rather than any formal announcement, drew bipartisan denunciations and threw currently serving transgender soldiers into limbo.
“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,” the commander in chief tweeted.
Trump wrote that he had consulted with “my generals and military experts,” but he did not mention Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired Marine general who less than one month ago told the military service chiefs to spend another six months weighing the costs and benefits of allowing transgender individuals to enlist. At the time, Mattis said this “does not presuppose the outcome of the review,” but Trump’s tweets appeared to have done just that.
The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender people currently serving. A Rand Corp. study has estimated the number at between 1,320 and 6,630 out of 1.3 million active-duty troops.
Criticism for Trump’s action was immediate and strong from both political parties.
His action is “harmful, misguided and weakens, not strengthens our military,” said Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.