Trump's Ban on Transgender Service Members 'Devalues Americans,' ADL Says

It's a 'sad day,' U.S. Jewish groups says after Trump tweets U.S. military 'cannot be burdened with medical costs' of transgender individuals

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U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. military personnel at Naval Air Station Sigonella following the G7 Summit, in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. military personnel at Naval Air Station Sigonella following the G7 Summit, in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. Credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi/REUTERS

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) strongly criticized President Trump’s declaration Wednesday that the U.S. government would no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in the military, slamming the new policy as “deeply objectionable and blatantly discriminatory.”

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted early Wednesday that transgender individuals cannot serve in "any capacity in the U.S. military." 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 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."

In a statement, the ADL said that “it’s a sad day when the President of the United States declares that transgender Americans are unwelcome in the United States military,” wrote Jonathan A. Greenblatt

“This policy is deeply objectionable – it devalues individual Americans and is blatantly discriminatory. We’ll fight against this unpatriotic ban of transgender troops. We cannot let bigotry stop Americans from serving their country." 

Ash Carter, who was U.S. defense secretary until the end of the Obama administration in January, strongly criticized Trump's decision on Wednesday to ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military. 

"To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military," Carter said in a statement, noting there were already transgender individuals serving "capably and honorably." 

Interfaith Alliance president Rabbi Jack Moline also issued a response, saying Trump's "bigoted ban on transgender people in the military is a gift to the Religious Right and an affront to the Constitution." He warned that when Trump "carries water for the Religious Right, our civil rights and liberties pay the price," and that he should "instead get his own affairs in order."

It was not the first time Trump had targeted transgender people since taking office in January. The Republican president in February rescinded protections for transgender students put in place by his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, that had let them use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.

It is estimated that as many as 150,000 transgender individuals have served in the U.S. military in all branches. A Rand Corporation study recently indicated that 18 countries allow transgender military personnel to serve openly, and that “evidence from foreign militaries and the U.S. military has indicated no significant impact on unit cohesion or operational readiness as a result of allowing transgender and gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly.”