Nearly a month after President Donald Trump declared that transgender individuals would not be permitted to serve in the armed forces, the administration appears poised to act on that pledge, with plans to re-impose the ban on transgendered service members abolished by President Obama.
Until 2016, service members were required to pass fitness examinations based on the standards for their biological gender, rather than self-identified gender. Service members were also required to use bathroom facilities corresponding to their actual biological gender. Openly transgender people risked removal from the armed forces.
On June 30th, 2016, however, the Obama administration ended the policy, permitting openly transgendered people to enlist and serve. In addition, the administration allowed transgendered expanded the medical care coverage for service members to include sex reassignment procedures.
That move angered some Republican lawmakers, who said the coverage of expensive reassignment procedures was an unnecessary burden on the military budget. Critics also charged that allowing biologically male service members to share shower and bathroom facilities with women constitutes an infringement on the rights of female members of the armed forces.
Amid pressure from conservatives in Congress, Trump announced on July 26th that the pre-2016 ban on open transgendered individuals would be renewed.
"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. 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. Thank you," the president wrote on Twitter.
The announcement set off a firestorm of criticism from the left, including some who claimed the move would harm America’s national security, despite the relatively small number of transgendered individuals in the US military.
While conservatives praised the move, the announcement appeared to catch the Pentagon by surprise, with no official response or plan for re-imposing the ban issued following the Tweet.
On Wednesday, however, the first evidence of implementation of the president’s declaration appeared, The New York Times reported, with a planned White House memo giving Secretary of State John Mattis six months to put the president’s new policy into effect.
According to the NYT, the memo will be formally issued to the Pentagon in the coming days.