President Trump's ban of transgender military personnel has been halted
Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order in an attempt to formally begin the process of banning transgender individuals from serving in the United States military. This came just one month after he posted a series of tweets stating his intention to do so.
In the final poorly-worded tweet, Trump stated that his reason for the ban was that the military, "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail". This was perhaps somewhat surprising to hear when, only one year earlier, the president had said at a rally in Dallas that the "LGBT community is starting to like Donald Trump very, very much lately".
As could be expected, the tweets drew a great deal of attention.
"What happened 2 protecting the LGBTQIA community?" asked one Twitter user, who the went on to say that Americans are "burdened" by Trump's ignorance.
Other responses to the tweets pointed out that the military actually spends more (nearly five times as much, in fact) on Viagra than it does on "Transgender services", leading some to suspect that the ban had nothing to do with costs at all, but was rather a personal attack on the LGBTQ community.
Most interesting of all, though, was the response from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including chairman General Joseph Dunford, who stated in a press conference with CNN that he had not yet received any formal "directives through the proper chain of command channels". This goes against what Trump had claimed in the tweets, and implies that he had not, in fact, consulted with "Generals and military experts".
Democratic Representative Steny Hoyer stated that,
"When I hear the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no idea he was going to do this, it's another indication, the only reason it was done was to appeal to some House members and those who wanted to and offered an amendment to discriminate against those transgender members of the armed forces."
Other senators also offered their opinion on the matter, with some members of Trump's own party stating that they thought the move to announce the ban publicly without consulting the appropriate government parties was a bad idea. Republican Senator John McCain described Trump's actions as "a mistake", and said that the President should have liaised with the Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, before tweeting about the policy.
Now it transpires that Mattis himself has put a halt on the transgender ban. In a formal statement, the Secretary of Defense stated that “In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place." Current policy, of course, allows transgender individuals to serve openly in the armed forces - a policy originally implemented by former President Barack Obama.
The ban will be put on hold until Mattis has consulted with a panel of experts serving in the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, after which a more informed decision may be made.
In the meantime, Mattis has said that he will most likely be issuing further guidance, “including any necessary interim adjustments to procedures, to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued.”
However, whether the ban is upheld or not, the whole situation has been a huge blow to transgender individuals. When campaigning for the presidency, Trump had promised progress for the LGBTQ community. So far, though, the opposite seems to have happened.
The President has yet to tweet about the update.