Activists and lawmakers react to Trump's transgender military ban

Activists and lawmakers react to Trump's transgender military ban

"After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the USA government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military", the president said then, though the announcement seemed to catch the Pentagon off guard.

US President Donald Trump late Friday, March 23, rolled back his blanket ban on transgender people serving in the military - but they will still face major restrictions in the American armed forces.

In August, Trump directed the Pentagon to reverse an Obama-era policy that had allowed transgender people, or those with gender dysphoria, to serve.

"In service to the ideological goals of the Trump-Pence base, the Pentagon has distorted the science on transgender health to prop up irrational and legally untenable discrimination that will erode military readiness", said Aaron Belkin, who has studied transgender issues for the Palm Center, a think tank that had worked with the Obama administration in repealing the previous ban.

"This Trump-Pence plan categorically bans transgender people from service, with no legitimate basis", added Jennifer Levi, transgender right project director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, in a statement.

People who have undergone gender transition treatment are barred because it may not "fully remedy. the mental health problems associated with gender dysphoria", the report said, also noting the time required for treatment. Fast forward to present day, the policy recommendation has been finalized and Trump has quickly signed off on it, pending a congressional hearing. "There is no evidence to support a policy that bars from military service patriotic Americans who are medically fit and able to deploy".

Some 8,980 service members reportedly identify as transgender, but only 937 active duty personnel were diagnosed with gender dysphoria since the end of June 2016, according to White House figures.

"This policy was reverse-engineered for the sole goal of carrying out President Trump's reckless and unconstitutional ban", the union said. Activist groups had anxious the administration could enact such strict enlistment and health care restrictions that it would become all but impossible for transgender troops to join or continue serving. The Pentagon responded by allowing those serving to stay in the military, and began allowing transgender individuals to enlist beginning January 1. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the public favor allowing transgender people to serve, while 30% oppose.

"The Department of Defense will continue to comply with the federal court ruling and continue to assess and retain transgender service members", said Maj.

But rather than addressing that narrow issue, Trump opted to upend the entire policy on transgender service members.

"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.

"From the first impulsive tweet, this policy has clearly been driven by an extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda rather than what is in the best interests of our troops and national security", said Sarah McBride, national press secretary for Human Rights Campaign.

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