President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Wednesday that the United States Military will no longer “accept or allow” transgender people.
Trump sent a string of tweets out during the morning making the announcement, saying that forces “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and simply couldn’t afford to accommodate them.
According to a RAND study, about 2,450 military personnel of the 1.3 million active-duty members are transgender.
Axios politics reporter Jonathan Swan spoke with an anonymous official from the Trump administration, who said that the decision to ban transgender people from the military “forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to take complete ownership of the issue.” The official said the decision makes it more difficult for some Democrats to seek re-election in 2018.
Read the full statement from the official below:
One of those seeking re-election in 2018, in addition to Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, is Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Baldwin was the first openly gay person elected to Senate back in 2012 and the issue of transgenders serving in the military will likely be one of the focal points of her re-election bid.
Trump’s sudden policy change completely reverses that brought forth by President Barack Obama, who announced last year that transgender people would be allowed to “openly” serve in the military.
One of the last things Obama did before leaving office was commute Chelsea Manning’s sentencing, resulting in her early release from prison a few months ago.
Manning tweeted about Trump’s policy change shortly after announcing it.
In 2015, Ashton B. Carter, Obama’s defense secretary, changed policy to open all combat roles to women for the first time in history. Carter also selected the first openly gay Pentagon chief of staff, Eric Fanning, in 2015.
Trump’s announcement came as a bit of a surprise to many and it’s not clear what prompted him to make the decision at that time or on the platform.
In June, the Trump administration said it would delay a decision on whether transgender recruits could join the military by six months.
Trump’s announcement comes at a time when there’s ongoing debate on Capitol Hill regarding the practice by the Obama administration of requiring the Pentagon to pay for the medical treatments that are directly related to gender transition, the New York Times reported.