White House mum on transgender troop ban

Lucy Bush
August 1, 2017

"I have served with transgender service members and have seen first-hand how allowing them to serve openly has positively impacted their ability to contribute to the mission", said Shawn Kumagai, Secretary of Lambda Democratic Club and a serving member of the United States Navy Reserve. In a Twitter post, Reuters foreign policy correspondent Idrees Ali revealed that U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Joseph Dunford wrote a letter that said the military's policy on transgenderism will remain the same for the meantime.

Amidst widespread speculation about the President's motivations for such an abrupt shift, those most shaken by the announcement were transgender service members themselves, whose futures are now at risk. More than half of that groups said the policy change had a very negative effect on military morale.

Trump's statement on his new decision was also affirmed by the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who said the new ruling was made based on "what was best for the military".

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He said the ban is "probably supported by the vast majority of Americans".

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It was incredibly dismissive of military leaders who had been diligently crafting guidelines for more than a year to allow transgender troops to serve openly.

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Dunford is responding to Trump's announcement on Twitter Wednesday that the government will not allow or accept transgender people in the military "in any capacity". During his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis indicated he didn't plan to reverse the changes in the USA military for gay and female service members.

At the top end of estimates, according to a study from the RAND corporation, the military would spend $8.4 million annually for transition related medical care for its transgender service members. "Trump is essentially ignoring the dignity and humanity of trans military personnel and veterans and attempting to negate the significance of their service". In fact, Trump appears to have made his decision hastily, interrupting an ongoing Pentagon review and taking key military and congressional players by surprise. (Forty-one percent disagree.) That seems to jibe with the general public's intuition in the June Rasmussen poll that trans troops will have a negative impact on the military but maybe not so much of one as to make that impact the deciding factor in judging whether a ban is justified or not. Nearly half - 47 percent - believed the policy change would have little effect on their own unit's military readiness. But neither Carter nor President Barack Obama ever articulated how the new policy would affect military readiness. In Trump's America, trans people can't serve in the military, we don't deserve employment protections and we're not welcome in schools.

Members of the state's congressional delegation criticized both the message - one called it "dumb" - and the medium, with confusion on exactly what weight the president's words have on Pentagon policy'.

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