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Transgender people cannot serve in the U.S. military, Trump says

President Donald Trump greats members of the military and others as he arrives on Air Force One at Raleigh County Memorial Airport, in Beaver, W.Va., Monday, July 24, 2017, en route to the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Glen Jean, W.Va..
President Donald Trump greats members of the military and others as he arrives on Air Force One at Raleigh County Memorial Airport, in Beaver, W.Va., Monday, July 24, 2017, en route to the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Glen Jean, W.Va.. AP

President Donald Trump said Wednesday morning that transgender people are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

A Pentagon directive under the administration of former President Barack Obama was going to allow transgender men and women to start serving in the military over the summer, according to the Military Times. The ban was lifted in June 2016.

“We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission,” said then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, according to CNN. “We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population.”

The deadline to fully implement the reversal of the ban on transgender people was July 1, but Trump delayed implementation. Now, according to Trump, the ban will stay in place.

The Pentagon commissioned a six-month study before lifting the ban, estimating that transgender service member treatments would increase military health care costs between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, according to the LA Times. That constitutes a 0.13 percent increase.

Transgender men and women would have been required to wait 18 months after transitioning before being accepted into the military, under the Obama administration policy.

“Transgender service members have been awaiting this announcement for months and years: it has long been overdue,” Matt Thorn, executive director of the LGBT military network OutServe-SLDN, said when the Obama administration announced the end of the ban. “Secretary Carter, with his statement, has given a breath of relief and overdue respect to transgender service members who have been and are currently serving our country with undeniable professionalism, the utmost respect and illustrious courage, with the caveat to do so silently.”

It’s unclear how many transgender men and women currently serve in the military, since they would be discharged if their status was officially known, but estimates put the number somewhere between 2,450 and 15,500. There are a total of about 1.3 million active duty service members.

Pentagon Spokesperson Jeff Davis said all questions about Trump’s statements should be referred to the White House. He said “revised guidance” would be provided to the relevant departments in the “near future.”

The law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which banned gay and lesbian people from serving in the military, was repealed in 2011.

It’s not the first policy pertaining to transgender people that the Trump administration has reversed. Trump in February rescinded protections implemented by Obama that advised schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding to their preferred gender identity. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos originally opposed getting rid of the protections, according to the New York Times, but relented after Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions told her to drop her opposition.

Real-time reporter Donovan Harrell contributed to this report.

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