WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would not permit transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption,” an action condemned by critics as “raw prejudice” and a political stunt.
It was not the first time Trump had targeted transgender people since taking office in January. The Republican president in February rescinded protections for transgender students put in place by his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, that had let them use bathrooms corresponding with their gender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 U.S. Military,” Trump wrote in a series of Twitter posts.
“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,” the Republican president wrote.
Trump’s action appeared to halt years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation. The Pentagon last year under Obama announced that it was ending its ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, with officials calling the prohibition outdated.
The Defense Department on Wednesday referred all questions about Trump’s decision to the White House. “We will provide revised guidance to the department in the near future,” Defense Department spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.
The Pentagon had been expected to start allowing transgender people to begin enlisting this year, provided they had been “stable” in their preferred gender for 18 months. But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on June 30 approved a six-month delay in allowing transgender recruits to join the military.
American Civil Liberties Union attorney Joshua Block called Trump’s action outrageous and desperate, saying the president rejected the…