Transgenders barred from military service, courtesy White House

Desiree Steele
March 25, 2018

In a revised directive, US President Donald Trump has said transgender troops are a considerable risk to military effectiveness.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday issued orders to ban transgender troops who require surgery or significant medical treatment from serving in the military except in select cases - following through on a controversial pledge past year that has been under review by the Pentagon and is being fought out in the courts. Friday's memorandum would bar "persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria-including individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery" and would disqualify them "from military service except under limited circumstances".

In October, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia temporarily blocked Trump's ban and said the reasoning behind it was most likely unconstitutional because it represented a "disapproval of transgender people generally".

The Trump administration's late Friday announcement that it would move ahead with a ban on transgender service members in the military-which has previously been rejected as unconstitutional in court rulings-was met with anger and condemnation by LGBTQ rights groups on Saturday.

In a statement, the White House defended the ban as a common-sense way to "apply well-established mental and physical health standards-including those regarding the use of medical drugs-equally to all individuals".

Trump shocked Pentagon leaders a year ago when he tweeted that he would reverse the Obama-era policy allowing transgender people to serve openly, the Associated Press reported.

The decision revokes a full ban that Trump issued last summer but disqualifies USA troops who have had gender reassignment surgery, as recommended by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. "It's a gross mischaracterization of transgender people, and it's bad for our military". Fast forward to present day, the policy recommendation has been finalized and Trump has quickly signed off on it, pending a congressional hearing.

Trump's memorandum said the two cabinet secretaries recommended people diagnosed with gender dysphoria be barred from military service.

"This policy was reverse-engineered for the sole goal of carrying out President Trump's reckless and unconstitutional ban", the union said. There are over 1,300,000 active duty personnel of the United States military, according to July 2017 data from the Department of Defense.

"(The Pentagon) will continue to assess and retain transgender service members", Pentagon spokesman Major David Eastburn said.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization, accused the Trump administration of pushing "anti-transgender prejudices onto the military".

Mr Trump's policy reversed the Pentagon's 2016 decision to allow transgender individuals to serve.

Senior staff attorney for the ACLU Joshua Block said, "What the White House has released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy". It concluded that there were 2,000 to 11,000 active-duty troops who were transgender.

On Friday, the Pentagon reaffirmed that it would continue to comply with federal law.

As the new plan will be challenged in court, like Trump's full ban was last summer, it's unclear when these changes will take effect.

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