Last month, President Trump announced in a series of tweets, as he does, that transgender Americans would be banned from serving in the military in any capacity. His announcement elicited widespread outcry, but on Thursday, he proved that he's not backing down. Speaking from his golf club in New Jersey, Trump called the transgender ban "a great favor" to the military, defending one of his many controversial policies.
As you know, it's been a very complicated issue for the military, it's been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I'm doing the military a great favor.
The president's words came alongside comments on a variety of pressing issues, including declaring the nationwide opioid crisis a national emergency. Trump addressed the media from New Jersey while taking a working vacation from the White House. While on vacation, Trump has also addressed issues like health care and the continued threats coming out of North Korea.
His comments about the transgender ban were perhaps the most controversial. Trump celebrated his policy, calling transgender inclusion "a very difficult situation."
"It's been a very difficult situation, and I think I'm doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it," he said.
The transgender ban has received backlash from both sides of the aisle. On the left, Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a military veteran herself, told Bustle that Trump's policy "is weakening us." Duckworth insisted that the military's value comes, at least in part, from its structure as a meritocracy that doesn't discriminate.
What I love about the military, why I fell in love with the Army, was that it at its heart and at its core is a meritocracy. Can you do the job, you have my six and I have yours, and are you willing to go through the misery that I'm willing to go through? And if you are, then do the job.
Meanwhile, U.S. Navy veteran and Republican Sen. John McCain has also criticized the transgender ban. "There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military -- regardless of their gender identity," McCain said last month. "We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so."
Despite his defense of the transgender military ban, the president on Thursday maintained that he has "great respect" for the transgender community. However, it's hard to imagine his relationship with the transgender community wouldn't suffer after such a ban. Chances are, transgender Americans won't see the ban against them as a "great favor."