U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted early Wednesday that transgrender individuals cannot serve in "any capacity in the U.S. military." He wrote that, "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming....." The Pentagon immediately referred all questions to the White House following the announcement.
Trump's message was in the form of a three-part tweet, with the first part going out almost ten minutes before the second. The third tweet explained the decision: "... [our military] cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
On June 30, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved a six-month delay in allowing transgender recruits to join the U.S. armed forces, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.
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Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement that Mattis accepted a recommendation to defer transgender applicants until January 1.
The Pentagon ended its ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S. military in 2016 under the Barack Obama administration. It was expected to start allowing transgender people to begin enlisting this year, provided they had been "stable" in their preferred gender for 18 months.
The delay had alarmed transgender advocates.
"We are disappointed in this needless delay because the thousands of highly trained and qualified transgender service members openly and proudly serving our nation today have proven that what matters is the ability to accomplish the mission, not their gender identity," Stephen Peters of the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement at the time.
Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter cited a study by the RAND Corporation saying there were about 2,500 transgender active-duty service members and 1,500 reserve transgender service members.