Washington: President Donald Trump has reversed an Obama-era plan of recruiting transgenders in the US military, a decision Democrats said was "cruel" and meant to "hurt and humiliate" the soldiers.
Trump on Friday formally signed a memorandum, a copy of which was released by the White House, directing the Secretary of Defence, Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the US Coast Guard, to return to the longstanding practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place before June 2016.
Trump alleged in the memo that his predecessor Barack Obama dismantled the Defence Departments' established framework by permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military, authorising the use of its resources to fund sex-reassignment surgical procedures, and permitting accession of such individuals after 1 July this year.
"In my judgement, the previous administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the departments' longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources, and there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year's policy change would not have those negative effects," Trump said.
The memo requests the Pentagon to develop an implementation plan for the ban by 21 February, 2018, which should be put in place on 23 March, 2018.
Last month, Trump had announced his decision to ban transgender men and women from US military on Twitter.
Pentagon press secretary Dana White said the Department of Defence has received formal guidance from the White House in reference to transgender personnel serving in the military.
"More information will be forthcoming," she said.
Criticising the decision, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump's memorandum is ordering the Pentagon to "hurt and humiliate thousands of Americans who serve in US military with strength and courage".
"Prejudice, not national defence, is behind President Trump's cruel decision to kick transgender troops out of the military," she said.
"A study commissioned by the Department of Defence itself found that the cost of providing medically necessary care for transgender troops would be miniscule. In fact, every year, the Pentagon spends five times more on Viagra than they would for transition-related care," Pelosi said.
Democratic Congressman Patrick Maloney said: "This is a political decision that's more about attacking transgender Americans than keeping us safe. If you doubt the ability of transgender troops to complete their mission, you should do your homework. Transgender troops have served in some of our most elite units and graduated from our premier military academies - preventing them from serving is wrong and it's un-American."
Maloney is the first openly gay member of Congress from New York and a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus. After being together for 22 years, he married Randy Florke in June 2014 in New York, where they live with their three children.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler said that military service is a privilege, not a right.
"I'm pleased to see the president putting military readiness first and making sure our defence dollars are spent keeping us safe. With the growing threats from Iran, North Korea, China and others, the US military cannot afford to divert precious defence dollars from our national security," she said.
"Every dollar must be spent investing in new military technology, getting the right equipment for our troops, and making sure we are protected from threats across the globe," Hartzler said.
Last year, Obama decided to allow transgenders to serve in the US military. Announcing the decision in June 2016, then defence secretary Ashton Carter said the Defence Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain the finest fighting force the world has ever known.
Updated Date: Aug 26, 2017 14:59 PM