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Trump issues a formal ban on transgender people serving in the military

25 March 2018

Trump surprised the Pentagon's leadership in a 2017 tweet when he declared he would reverse an Obama-era plan to allow transgender individuals to serve openly. The White House said persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria - the medical diagnosis for those who receive treatment, often during their transition - are disqualified from serving except under "certain limited circumstances". Federal judges allowed transgender service members to continue serving under the old ban and permitted transgender recruits to join the military as well.

In a statement, the White House defended the ban as a common-sense way to "apply well-established mental and physical health standards-including those regarding the use of medical drugs-equally to all individuals".

The ban follows Trump's erratic announcement in July 2017, when through a series of Tweets he stated his intention to ban transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military.

Mattis' full report claims that "there are substantial risks associated with allowing the accession and retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and require, or have already undertaken, a course of treatment to change their gender ... It's a gross mischaracterization of transgender people, and it's bad for our military".

He reached this conclusion based on recommendations from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

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Trump's efforts have faced a number of serious setbacks, including multiple lawsuits arguing that banning a group of people from the military on the basis of their gender identity is unconstitutional.

"There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops", HRC president Chad Griffin said.

The study estimated that health care costs would rise $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year, representing an infinitesimal 0.04 to 0.13 percent increase in spending. Only one exception is, that of those who declared themselves trans-gendered once Obama's policy was approved, that they would remain in the gender with which they identify themselves. Accordingly, transgender troops now serving may continue to do so, however, the Pentagon has the option to "require them to serve according to the gender at birth".

The new measures provoked a furious reaction from several civil rights and LGBT groups.

Citing research into other countries that allow transgender people to serve, the study projected "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness" in the United States.

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Eastburn could not say how many transgender service members are in the military, because the Pentagon classifies troops as men or women.

In a statement, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said administration's new plan "solves nothing".

"What the White House has released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy", the ACLU's Joshua Block said in a statement accusing the administration of forcing transgender people to choose between their humanity and their country.

"The Department of Defense will continue to comply with the federal court ruling and continue to assess and retain transgender service members", said Maj.

"Currently serving transgender service members will continue to go to work every day as they have before contributing to the readiness and lethality of the force".

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Trump issues a formal ban on transgender people serving in the military