Thousands of transgender people serving in the US military face an uncertain future after Donald Trump said he would ban them from serving.
The President made the announcement in a series of tweets, but offered no details on how they would be implemented. The move reverses President Barack Obama’s policy that loosened restrictions on transgender people to serve in the US armed forces.
Mr Trump’s move drew swift condemnation from rights groups as “raw prejudice” with purely political motives, but it was praised by conservative activists and some Republicans.
“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,” Mr Trump said.
“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,” he added.
The new policy comes just weeks after Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the government was reviewing the issue. He said last month that the Pentagon was giving the military another six months to conduct a review to determine if allowing transgender individuals to enlist would impact its “readiness and lethality”.
The Pentagon indicated that it would “work closely” with the White House on the policies in the “near future”.