Donald Trump has reversed an Obama policy allowing transgender people to serve in the US military.
In June of last year, President Obama asked the Pentagon to lift its long-held ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.
The Department of Defense was given until July 1 of this year to implement the policy, with LGBT advocates hopeful that transgender soldiers would finally be able to serve openly.
The decision was delayed by Trump’s Defence Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis – and the President confirmed today that he would reverse the decision put the ban back in place.
President Trump tweeted: “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.”
Though Trump claimed the decision was taken “after consultation with Generals”, the Pentagon had not made any formal objection to the plan, and the decision rests entirely with the President.
Some within the military have raised concern about the short implementation window of the changes, though chiefs had backed the plans.
The decision was reportedly pushed by Vice President Mike Pence, a strong opponent of LGBT rights.
The Human Rights Campaign attacked the White House for a “deeply troubling and patently unpatriotic assault on military families”.
The group added: “[Trump and Pence should] be working to ensure all service members and their families are getting the support and resources they need and deserve, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Chad Griffin added: “15,000+ transgender Americans are already bravely serving our country. By attacking them, Trump is undermining our military.
“I know transgender service members and vets who have done more to serve their country than Trump has in his entire life.”
The President famously dodged the draft four times during the Vietnam war, and has never served in the military.
Trump’s new ban is reminiscent of rules that banned gay people from openly serving in the military.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which was repealed by President Obama in 2013, led to the expulsion of hundreds of gay and lesbian officials in the military.
However, the ban on transgender people under separate medical rules was only lifted in 2016.
It is not the first time Trump has gone out of his way to reverse a decision on LGBT rights made by Obama.
The GOP leader has already scrapped protections for transgender school kids, ceased government opposition to state-level anti-LGBT laws, and sought to slash HIV aid funding.
The decisions sour Trump’s previous claims during his election campaign to be a “friend” of LGBT people.
In a speech directly after the Orlando massacre he had claimed: “Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the L-G-B-T community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words.”
He also won endless praise from gay Republicans for waving a Pride flag on stage, while making no pledges on LGBT rights.