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Donald Trump has banned transgender people from serving in the US military.
The US President has said “transgender individuals” will not be allowed to serve in the military “in any capacity” blaming “disruption” and “tremendous medical costs”.
He made the announcement in a series of tweets on Wednesday afternoon, writing: “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 US 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.”
His decision marks a sharp reversal of a policy brought in under former President Barack Obama in which the Pentagon ended a longtime ban on transgender people serving openly in the military.
In June 2016, the Obama administration made the landmark decision to get rid of the rule that said transgender people could be involuntarily seperated, discharge or denied re-enlistment or continuation of service just for being transgender.
Since October last year, transgender troops were able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identity in the Pentagon’s personnel system.
Ash Carter, Obama’s defence secretary at the time, gave the armed forces until July 1 this year to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to join the military as new recruits, if they meet physical and medical standards, and have been stable in their identified gender for 18 months.
But Trump’s defence secretary James Mattis recently gave the military another six months to conduct the review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed forces would affect its “readiness and lethality.”
There is no official count of transgender service members in the US but last year, the thinktank Rand estimated about 2,450 of the 1.3 million active duty service members are transgender.
Other groups, such as Transgender American Veterans Association, OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association cite a higher figure of 15,500.
This story is being updated.
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