President Donald Trump announced Wednesday via Twitter that he has made the decision that transgendered Americans should no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. The president issued a series of early-morning tweets revealing his decision.
How exactly the president would implement the ban — if it can be implemented at all — is unclear at this time. Already, many transgender men and women serve in the ranks, some openly. Others who haven't publicly transitioned in dress, physical appearance or with surgery but feel their internal gender is different from that assigned them at birth also make sacrifices on behalf of the American public.
According to the RAND Corporation, a military policy think tank, an estimated 2,450 Americans of transgender experience already actively serve in the military. RAND also estimates that there are 1,510 more such Americans in the reserves.
By proposing a ban, Trump is resurrecting a debate that was already dead. Six years ago, the Obama administration repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell, a policy that prevented active military servicemen and servicewomen from being open about their sexuality. Proponents of the Don't Ask policy argued that allowing the LGBT community to openly serve would present "an intolerable risk" to national security and would "break" the military.
Over a half a decade later, the repeal of Don't Ask has had zero negative impact on military readiness, recruitment, retention and morale, according to studies.
The Trump administration is hardly hiding the fact that it is pushing this discriminatory policy in order to appease its white, working-class base. One White House official admitted to Axios' Jonathan Swan that they are implementing the ban to win votes in 2018.
"This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to take complete ownership of this issue," the Trump insider said. "How will the blue collar voters in these states respond when senators up for re-election in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this key plank of their campaigns?"
Brad Carson, who served as the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness in the Obama administration and helped craft transgender military policy told The Washington Post's Dan Lamothe that Trump's ban will "invite litigation that will distract the Department of Defense for months, if not years, to come." The threshold question the Obama administration asked the Joint Chiefs was whether they would choose to boot transgender individuals who competently served out of the military. "Every single" one of them answered no, Lamothe reported.
Republican Sen. Ricard Shelby apparently agrees with the Joint Chiefs. Shortly after Trump's ban was announced, Shelby said, "I think everybody should be able to serve," John Berman reported.
The Pentagon, for their part, did not even know of Trump's transgender ban decision ahead of time, CNN reported. In a statement, the Pentagon directed all questions relating to the ban to the White House.
"We refer all questions about the President's statements to the White House," the statement said. "We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief" on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future."