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July 28, 2017

Trump announces major policy change for transgender service members over Twitter

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    • When President Trump tweeted on Tuesday that transgender Americans would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, his Joint Chiefs of Staff in the four branches of the military were unaware that he planned to make the announcement.
    • With no initial direction from the Pentagon, transgender service members, their families, and allies across the country were left uncertain about how the policy would be implemented.

  • Pending actual direction, the Pentagon has stated that no policy changes are imminent for transgender service members.
    • “We grow up and learn to obey the chain of command. And my chain of command is the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defense, right, and the president. So we will work through the implementation guidance when we get it, and then we will move from there,” said Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff.
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis has been on vacation, and has made no public comment on reinstating the ban.
  • “To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military. There are already transgender individuals who are serving capably and honorably,” said Ash Carter, secretary of defense under President Obama.
  • Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, joined several GOP colleagues in criticizing the ban and the decision to announce it over tweets.

  1. Essential question: How should qualifications to serve the country in the military be determined?
  2. What consequences of making major policy decisions on Twitter were evident in the aftermath of Trump’s announcement? 
  3. One of the Trump administration’s rationales for this announcement was the high cost of providing medical care for transgender troops. Is this a true claim? Find some data and compare spending on medical care for transgender troops to other military expenses.

Key Terms:

transgender: denoting a person whose gender identity and expression does not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth

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