On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump announced that transgender people would no longer be able to serve in the military, but did not make it clear when this service ban would be reinstated.
"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 U.S. Military," Trump tweeted. "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"
The ban's reinstatement date came into further question after Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand quickly responded to Trump's Wednesday morning decision saying that she plans to sponsor legislation that would overturn the president's decision. "This new directive is harmful, misguided, and weakens — not strengthens — our military. I will introduce legislation and will fight to overturn this discriminatory decision," she said in a statement.
Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat who is vice chair of the congressional LGBT caucus, was also quick to criticize the decision. Kildee told CNN that Trump's transgender ban announcement was a "slap in the face to the thousands of transgender Americans already serving in the military." Kildee also said the decision "undermines our military's readiness."
"Anyone who is willing to put on the uniform of the United States and risk their life in service to our country should be celebrated as patriots, regardless of their gender identity. This short-sighted and discriminatory policy will make America less safe," Kildee told CNN.
Trump's Wednesday morning announcement marks a full about-face from the policy decision made last year by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter when President Barack Obama was still in office. In June 2016 Carter announced that transgender people would be allowed to serve openly in military and that the armed services would begin accepting new transgender recruits in mid-2017. That acceptance, however, was seemingly delayed in the spring when the Department of Defense asked the various branches of the military to assess their readiness to accept new transgender troops.
According to CNN, the advocacy group the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the policy decision was "outrageous and desperate," also said it is looking for ways to fight the ban. "Let us be clear. This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country," Joshua Block, the senior staff attorney with the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project, told CNN. "The President is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of military personnel who have put their lives on the line for their country."