President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that transgender people may not serve “in any capacity” in the US military.
The move has upended a key policy from Barack Obama’s administration and drawing swift condemnation.
Announcing the major policy change on Twitter, Trump said the military should be focused on “overwhelming victory,” and not burdened with the “tremendous” medical costs and disruptions that transgender personnel would entail.
“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 US Military,” Trump tweeted.
The announcement served as a stunning reversal for the military, which has been working with military heads to implement an Obama-era plan to start accepting transgender recruits.
The previous policy also allowed trans troops already serving to do so openly.
Pentagon officials appeared blindsided by Trump’s tweets, with spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis referring questions to the White House.
The president thought the previous transgender policy was “disruptive,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, and decided it eroded military readiness and the camaraderie among troops.
“The decision is based on a military decision. It’s not meant to be anything more than that,” Sanders said.