The U.S. government is unsure how it will implement President Donald Trump’s Wednesday declaration that transgender U.S. troops will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
No official estimate for the number of openly transgender service members in the U.S. military is publicly available, but a June 2016 study by the RAND corporation put the number at 7,000. Neither the White House nor the Department of Defense could clarify whether current active duty openly transgender service members will be separated as a result of Trump’s order, which could effect thousands. The order almost certainly will lead to a ban on future transgender recruits and service academy applicants.
Prior to Trump’s announcement, reports indicated that service branches were having difficulty crafting integration policies for future transgender service members. The service’s objections appeared to stem from logistical rather than ideological concerns. The logistical concerns include a lack of funding for upgraded group showers and changes to service members’ living quarters.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that the Department of Defense would take the lead on implementing guidance for Trump’s order. Senior Pentagon officials did not appear to know that the announcement was coming.
“We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future,” Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement immediately following the announcement.
Sanders told reporters that Trump made his decision to reverse former President Barack Obama’s 2015 decision Monday after consultation with his national security team. Sanders clarified that Secretary of Defense James Mattis was “immediately” informed of the decision after it was made, and that the decision was made over “military readiness” concerns.
Sanders emphasized Trump’s belief that transgender service members “erode military readiness and unit cohesion.”
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