President Trump on Wednesday defended the decision to bar transgender citizens from enlisting in the armed forces despite having earlier tweeted his support for the LGBTQ community.
In an interview aired Wednesday, British journalist Piers Morgan asked Mr. Trump how he could ban transgender troops and if he feels “that protective of the LGBT community.”
“They have to … and you’re not allowed to take drugs. You’re not allowed to take any drugs. You take an aspirin. And they have to after the operation. They have to. They have no choice. They have to,” the president said on “Good Morning Britain.”
Mr. Morgan pushed back on that answer, saying the military spends more on the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra for soldiers than it does on transgender soldiers’ medical bills.
Mr. Trump responded that he wasn’t aware of that statistic, but added, “it is what it is.”
He also claimed transgender “people were going in and asking for the operation.”
“That’s not the way it is, you can’t do that,” he said. “You have to have a standard and you have to stick by that standard. We have a great military and I want to keep it that way. And maybe they would be phenomenal, I think they probably would be.”
“But, again, you have very strict rules and regulations on drugs and prescription drugs and all of these different things. And they blow it out of the water,” the president said.
Mr. Trump tweeted in July 2017 he would “not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”
It was met with legal opposition but ultimately took effect in April of this year.
While already serving U.S. soldiers who have undergone gender transition will be allowed to remain in uniform, U.S. service members looking to transition sexes could face forced retirement or be discharged from the military for medical reasons, as part of the Pentagon’s new transgender policy outlined in April.
• Carlo Muñoz contributed to this article.