President Donald Trump says transgender Americans will no longer be able to serve in the US military, unwinding an Obama-era policy just 12 months it was introduced.
Trump made the announcement on Twitter and reportedly failed to notify the Pentagon of his intentions.
“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 US Military,” he wrote on Twitter.
“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 ABC reports there are 2,500 active-duty transgender people in the US army, as well as about 1,500 in the reserve troops.
The announcement has been met with backlash on social media with some accusing the president of flipping on his election promise to “fight for” the LGBT community.
Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2016
A number of prominent members of the LGBT community, including Ellen DeGeneres and former US soldier turned military whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who is a transgender woman, took to twitter to slam the president’s decision.
We should be grateful to the people who wish to serve, not turn our backs on them. Banning transgender people is hurtful, baseless and wrong
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) July 26, 2017
Human Rights Watch called the ban “repugnant and discriminatory” and said it goes against the basic laws of civil society.
“The President’s claim on Twitter that this is about saving money on medical costs is laughable. No qualified, capable person should be turned away from service solely because of who they are,” the organisation said in a statement.
However, the Family Research Council, a Christian organisation that believes “homosexual conduct is harmful”, says Trump made the right call.
“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military,” president Tony Perkins said in a statement.
“The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.”