On July 26, current US President Donald Trump tweeted a series of 3 messages that stated transgender people cannot serve in any capacity in the military.
On Wednesday July 26, current US President Donald Trump tweeted a series of 3 messages that stated, "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you."
Following this message, Twitter users have taken a variety strong stances. Some responses to Trump's message included former Vice President Joe Biden tweeting, "Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop." and American actress and singer Zendaya reposting a picture with the words "Trans People Are Not A Burden." The hashtag #TransRightsAreHumanRights is trending even a day after the tweets.
To further criticisms of his actions, many Twitter responses also screenshotted and cited previous tweets in which Trump had stated he would protect the LBGTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) community -- and even claimed he would be a better president for LGBT Americans than his opponent, Hillary Clinton. The LBGTQ community took multiple setbacks in recent times as Trump also made a decision several months ago to reverse an Obama administration policy allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
Although Trump's decision was revealed in 3 short 140 character tweets, the gravity of the situation comes from a much longer history. We must take a look back to the policy that would allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama. After Obama left office the policy was left under review until last month when Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that he was delaying enactment of the plan to begin allowing transgender individuals to join the US military.
Mattis claimed that "Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?" in a memo late last month. "Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America's military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military Services."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoes Mattis in claiming the move is based only on a "military decision" and "not meant to be anything more than" that. She did not have an answer ready when asked what would happen to active transgender military members, but stated some implementation will take place lawfully.
Although Trump's tweet suggested he had already consulted with generals and military experts, he may have left out other key government officials/departments. The exact course of actions that will follow remains unclear.