The morning after Senate Republicans failed to pass a bill repealing Obamacare, President Trump tweeted that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military “in any capacity.”
Transgender people were barred from serving openly in the military until June 2016, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter officially ended the policy.
Carter gave the branches of the military a year to develop policies around transgender inclusion, but when that deadline arrived on July 1, 2017, current Defense Secretary Jim Mattis extended it by six months in order to “evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality,” he told the Associated Press.
Congress is debating related issues as part of the defense spending bill, but there is no obvious reason for Trump to have addressed the issue of transgender service today. However, his announcement has already started to shift the news cycle away from the GOP’s failure to pass a health care bill last night.
Even if the attack on transgender people is an attempt to deflect attention away from the health care news, it still hits hard. Trump has been undoing Obama-era protections for transgender people since he took office.
Approximately 15,500 transgender people were serving on active duty or in the Guard or Reserve forces in 2014, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. That means about .06 percent of people who report serving in the military are transgender. The ACLU is asking that transgender service members and reservists contact the organization.