- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

President Trump tweeted Wednesday that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the military.

“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.

“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,” Mr. Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

SEE ALSO: Pentagon to keep paying for sex-change surgeries

Vice President Mike Pence and House Republicans have already taken steps to block funding for transgender surgeries provided by the military, saying the defense budget is already strained.

Adding transgender troops to the Armed Forces had been an initiative in the Obama administration.

The announcement immediately split open America’s cultural and political divide.

The American Civil Liberties Union called it an “outrageous and desperate action,” and claimed extensive research showed there are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with transgender troops.

“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,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project.

The liberal veterans group Common Defense condemned the president’s pronouncement as a “un-American and morally wrong.”

“This statement by this Commander in Chief is a slap in the face to Americans who sacrificed to do what Trump and his children never have: serve their country in uniform,” said Pam Campos, the group’s executive director and an Air Force veteran.

“Transgender Americans are already serving honorably in our military and continuing to sign up in a time when many Americans are not. Trump’s gross attack against our transgender colleagues is an attack on all of us,” she said. “He actively weakens our military and public trust in it and our top military leadership. “

On the other side, the move was hailed for ending a “social experiment” in the military and returning the Pentagon’s focus to national security.

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said he applauded Mr. Trump “for keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.”

“The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda,” said Mr. Perkins, a Marine veteran. “The last thing we should be doing is diverting billions of dollars from mission-critical training to something as controversial as gender-reassignment surgery.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Republican, spoke to reporters Wednesday about the military.

“Policy of past has rendered soldiers non-deployable, and that’s not fair to those who have to be deployed in their stead,” she said. “We need to ensure these defense dollars are going towards meeting military threats.”

Ms. Hartzler declined to say at this time what her proposal would be for those openly trangender individuals currently serving. She also said she has not heard anyone reconsidering the gay and lesbians military policy as a result of this change.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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