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Trump Bars Transgender Individuals From US Armed Forces

President Donald Trump attends a roundtable on infrastructure at the Department of Transportation, in Washington, June 9, 2017.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press
President Donald Trump attends a roundtable on infrastructure at the Department of Transportation, in Washington, June 9, 2017.
Trump Bars Transgender Individuals From US Armed Forces
rump Bars Transgender Individuals From US Armed Forces GUEST: Jeanette Steele, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The top story on midday addition, the American civil liberties Union tweeted thousands of tran servicemembers on the front lines deserved better from the commander-in-chief. That was in response to the announcement on Twitter today. The U.S. would not allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the military. The Obama administration announced that transgender people would be allowed to serve openly in the military. Officials have not commented on or confirmed they were consulted about the reversal of the policy. Joining me is Jeanette Steele, a reporter with the Tribune. Welcome.Thank you.Estimates vary on how many trans military personnel there are. Is it between 2000 and 6000? Is that right ?I heard it can be as high as 14,000. They did a study and they gave 6000 figures. Those numbers compared to the 1.3 million people in total. It is a small group.Is the president saying that those servicemembers who are transgender have to leave the military ?That is what everyone is saying is unclear. The history here would be, do not ask and do not tell era where the policy was, if you were quiet, you could serve but if you came out and were open, you were discharged. Who knows? That is one possible thing.Have you heard reaction in the military? I know the tweets just came out this morning. Has there been follow-up from military brass at all ?Not that I have seen. The Pentagon is caught flat footed by the announcement. They have said, we are referring this to the White House and it will come back with policy guidance. As you know, troops cannot speak out about policy issues. We know from stories that have been done in the past, there is mixed opinion about these kinds of social policy changes that has happened in the past eight years. The Obama administration have showed that people are opposed to transgender people serving openly just absent -- as some have not. Those are the social changes that happened under the Obama administration.Tell us about that policy towards judge other people in the militaryThis has been building since the overturn of don't ask, do not tell. It was transgender to her serving. There were studies. Last summer, in June, the secretary Ashton Carter announced that those who were serving at present could do so openly. What was coming was training for the troops to explain them to how -- how to handle this. On July 1, they were supposed to open new recruits. We might have seen this announcement in the tea leaves going back in the past month. A month ago, secretary Matus announced that they were going to delay the admittance of new recruits by a year in response to recommendations by the military branches. What we know is that the Army came back to the Pentagon and said, we need to study this further. That is why they delayed the admittance of recruits by a year.One of the objections referenced in the president tweets about this this morning, it seems to be the government paying for hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery. Is that a major cost to the military ?That seems to be the question on the table. There are studies. In one estimate, it would cost $8 million per year to attend to the medical needs of transgender troops. You know, the big picture is, that is a lot of money. You compare that to the annual Pentagon budget which is topping $600 billion a year, compared to that, 8 million -- $8 million -- it is taxpayer dollars.Could Congress reversed this policy really ?That is an interesting question. Some Republicans in the Senate have signaled that they are not a fan of the policy. John McCain of Arizona has released a statement saying that they are against this and they think people who are qualified to serve should be allowed to serve. Who knows what fight this might get in Congress. Scott Peters has released a statement saying he has filed an amendment to the Defense authorization act to block this. On the legal front, the ACLU has released a statement saying they are looking at options to fight this. It is a large question that remains to be answer.Joining me has been Jeanette Steele with the San Diego Union Tribune. Thank you very much.Thank you.

President Donald Trump is barring transgender people from serving in the military "in any capacity," citing "tremendous medical costs and disruption."

Trump's announcement Wednesday morning on Twitter did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military.

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The president tweeted that after consulting with "Generals and military experts," the government "will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. 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," he added.

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Already, there are as many as 250 service members in the process of transitioning to their preferred genders or who have been approved to formally change gender within the Pentagon's personnel system, according to several defense officials.

The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops currently serving. A RAND study found that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active duty military, and another 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Since Oct. 1, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon's personnel system.

But Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to newly join the military, if they meet physical, medical and other standards, and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months. Military chiefs recently announced a delay on allowing transgender people from enlisting.

Key concerns include whether currently enlisted troops have had medical or other issues that cause delays or problems with their ability to deploy or meet physical or other standards for their jobs. Military leaders also wanted to review how transgender troops are treated, if they're discriminated against or if they have had disciplinary problems, the officials said. They were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.