Trump approves new limits on transgender troops in the military

Image of Donald Trump from Shutterstock

Image of Donald Trump from Shutterstock

In a revised directive, US President Donald Trump has said transgender troops are a considerable risk to military effectiveness.

President Donald Trump on Friday issued an order banning most transgender troops from serving in the military except under "limited circumstances".

Under the new policy proposal, transgender Americans "who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service", while transgender troops now serving will essentially be asked to deny their own gender identity, as the Pentagon will be able to demand that they serve according to the gender they were assigned at birth.

A similar ban, which reversed a policy shift started under his predecessor, President Barack Obama, has previously been blocked by federal judges in four separate cases, and is now being challenged in court.

Matt Thorn of OutServe-SLDN, a group dedicated to LGBTQ equality in the military, said in a statement that "this policy is a thinly-veiled and feeble attempt by the Trump-Pence administration to justify the unnecessary discrimination of qualified patriots in order to advance their own personal agendas and in defiance of the administration's top military leadership".

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump had revoked his previous policy for the new policy.

The new policy banning transgender people from military service offers a few exceptions.

A number of federal judges have issued rulings blocking Mr Trump's ban, saying it would probably violate the right, under the US Constitution, to equal protection under the law.

Additionally, troops who haven't had gender reassignment surgery can stay so long as they have been "medically stable for 36 months consecutive months in their biological sex before joining the military and are able to deploy across the world".

Indeed, a spokesman confirmed in late February that "an openly transgender recruit has enlisted for the first time in the United States", made possible by the court's decision.

Citing threats to troop readiness and morale, as well as costs associated with medical services, Trump said in a series of tweets in July that he would reverse President Barack Obama's policy allowing transgender people to join the armed forces.

However, a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation found that there would be "minimal impact on readiness and health care costs" if the Pentagon allowed transgender people to serve (Mattis argued in his recommendations that the study design was flawed).

A 2016 study conducted by the government-funded RAND Corporation for the Pentagon estimated that almost 4,000 transgender troops were serving on active duty and in the reserves.

In a statement, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said administration's new plan "solves nothing". The Pentagon said Friday that it will continue to abide by Obama-era policies welcoming transgender troops while those legal battles continue.

"What the White House has released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy", the ACLU's Joshua Block said in a statement accusing the administration of forcing transgender people to choose between their humanity and their country. "We will never stop fighting this discriminatory policy until every current and future transgender service member is treated equally and respected fully for their bravery".

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