Trump tweets transgender individuals can't serve in U.S. military

    (The Associated Press)

    President Donald Trump Wednesday said transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military "in any capacity."

    In a series of tweets, the president cited "tremendous medical costs" and the "disruption that transgender in the military would entail" as his reasons for his position.

    "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 said.

    Trump said his decision was made in consultation with military officials.

    The president's policy position is a hard reversal from the Pentagon's 2016 decision allowing transgender individuals to serve.

    In June, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave military chiefs six months conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services will affect the "readiness or lethality" of the force. A Pentagon spokesperson said the delay in allowing the enlistment of new recruits does not affect transgender troops who are already serving openly in the military, according to the Associated Press.

    It's unclear if Trump's newly stated position will affect currently enlisted transgender individuals.

    The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) called the president's position "a direct attack on transgender Americans."

    "His admin. will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology - even if it means denying some of our bravest the right to serve," a representative for the organization posted on Twitter. "There are already 15,000 patriotic, transgender Americans serving in our military, and this ban will cause a huge disruption. Furthermore, this puts the careers of patriotic transgender Americans on the line who want nothing more than to serve their country."

    Rep. Ted Lieu, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, derided the president's statement in an interview with CNN.

    "We don't care who you love ... we just care if you can shoot straight and complete the mission," Lieu said.

    Already, there are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon's personnel system, according to several defense officials.

    The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A RAND study found that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active duty military, and another 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.

    Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Since Oct. 1, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon's personnel system.

    But Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to newly join the military, if they meet physical, medical and other standards, and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months. Military chiefs recently announced a delay on allowing transgender people from enlisting.

    Key concerns include whether currently enlisted troops have had medical or other issues that cause delays or problems with their ability to deploy or meet physical or other standards for their jobs. Military leaders also wanted to review how transgender troops are treated, if they're discriminated against or if they have had disciplinary problems, the officials said. They were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

    While on the campaign trail, Trump tweeted, "Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs." Critics were quick to re-tweet and reply the president's previous statement.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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