The Obama era was a period of great social progress in the United States military. The Democratic administration ended the ban on gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly; the Pentagon made women eligible for combat roles; the Secretary of the Army was an openly gay man; and the administration ended the ban on transgender Americans serving in uniform.
On that last point, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in June 2016 that transgender service members are “talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction.”
Donald Trump apparently doesn’t care.
President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender military service in a series of tweets Wednesday morning.
“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,” Trump wrote in a trio of tweets Wednesday morning.
There was an odd point in last year’s presidential campaign, shortly after the Orlando nightclub massacre, in which Trump insisted that LGBT voters, en masse, should move to the right and vote Republican. Trump, in apparent seriousness, said he, not Hillary Clinton, would be the “better friend” of the “LBGT” [sic] community. Just two days after the Orlando shooting, Trump added, “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you.”
Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump advisor and surrogate who now serves as the White House’s communications director, declared earlier this year that Trump “is most pro-LGBTQ rights [president] in history. Why’s that story not written in mainstream media?”
That was before Trump decided to undermine the rights of transgender kids in public schools, which came before today’s tweets banning transgender Americans from serving in the U.S. military.
What’s not at all clear is what Trump and his Republican administration intend to do with the transgender Americans who are already serving in uniform. Remember, Barack Obama’s policy didn’t open the door to transgender troops; transgender troops were already there. Obama simply allowed these soldiers to come out and share their gender identity with their colleagues and commanding officers.
Trump, however, says he will not “accept or allow” transgender Americans “to serve in any capacity.” While we wait for further guidance from the military, it would appear this means a whole lot of dishonorable discharges are on the way, because our confused amateur president says so.
After Trump’s announcement, a Trump administration official told an Axios reporter, “This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to take complete ownership of this issue.”
It’s almost as if the White House is unconcerned with civil rights or military recommendations, and is solely interested in partisan political considerations.