Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the US armed forces. Twitter
The decision reversed a policy initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama, which was still under final review, that would allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last month that he was delaying enactment of the plan to begin allowing transgender individuals to join the US military.
Ash Carter, the Defense secretary under Obama, ended the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military in 2016, but allowed for a year-long review process to allow the Pentagon to determine how it would accept new transgender recruits into the military.
On the eve of that one-year deadline, Mattis announced that he was delaying the implementation of the new policy, saying he needed more time.
“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?” Mattis said in a memo late last month. “Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military Services.”
Trump’s decision marks a setback for LGBT rights groups who have expressed concerns that the Trump administration could chip away at progress the community has seen in recent years on the backs of a series of landmark decisions in recent years that have included the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide and a repeal of the ban on gay people openly serving in the military.
Trump’s decision is also another setback for the transgender community following his decision several months ago to reverse an Obama administration policy allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
The Obama administration faced heated criticism from the right last year when it announced the military ban and several Republican members of Congress have urged the Trump administration to reverse the decision, arguing that the decision does not serve the US’ defense interests.