Donald Trump rushed to a snap decision to ban transgender people from the military.
Donald Trump announced on Twitter last year that all transgender servicepeople would be purged from the US armed forces, claiming they were a burden on the 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”, insiders claimed that he rushed to the conclusion by himself, after facing pressure from anti-LGBT Republicans in Congress.
And new Trump book ‘Fire and Fury’ by Michael Wolff, an inside story of much of the goings-on inside the Trump White House, presents a grim picture of how the decision was actually made.
Wolff wrote: “That evening, the President travelled to West Virginia, to deliver a speech to the Boy Scouts of America. His speech was tonally at odds with time, place and good sense.
“It prompted an immediate apology from the Boy Scouts to its members, their parents and the country at large. The quick trip did not seem to improve Trump’s mood.
“The President had been presented with four different options related to the military’s transgender policy. The presentation was meant to frame an ongoing discussion, but ten minutes after receiving the discussion points, and without further consultation, Trump tweeted his transgender ban.”
The account neglects to mention the pressure from Republicans in Congress, who days prior had attempted to attach a measure banning military funding for transgender medical treatment to a spending bill.
As The Advocate notes, the impasse on the spending bill was cited at the time as one of the key factors in the ban – though Trump’s snap decision to entirely ban transgender people from serving was far in excess of what the lawmakers in Congress had been seeking.
However, the lack of clarity in Wolff’s report potentially suggests an ignorance of advisors around Trump, who were the main sources for the book.
It’s possible that Trump’s advisors were simply not aware of the motive behind Trump’s action.
One thing is clear, however: if the account is to be believed, Trump was not telling the truth when he claimed the decision was taken “after consultation with Generals”.
Congress recently demanded that Donald Trump provide proof for his claims that generals supported the decision.
114 Members of Congress signed a letter requesting the White House release any correspondence with the Pentagon and military officials that took place prior to the announcement.
It says: “We request information about what discussions or correspondence between the White House and the Pentagon, if any, led President Trump to make his assertion.
“If senior military or Department of Defense personnel asked that the president ban transgender individuals from military service, we request access to any letters, e-mails, telephone transcripts, meeting logs and minutes. or other materials that document such requests.
“If the Department has records of any other discussions that might have justified the president’s claim, we request to see those materials, as well.
“We seek access to these materials in order to determine whether the president, his national security team, and military leaders are actively coordinating policy with one another, or whether the president’s transgender ban announcement reflected a breakdown in communication.
“As you know, clear communication between the White House and the Pentagon is essential to our nation’s security.
“We thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to receiving your reply. “
Tellingly, all 114 of the signatories are Democrats. Not a single Republican lawmaker has signed the letter asking to see evidence.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said: “Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.”
Rep. Joe Kennedy, who chairs the Transgender Equality Task Force in Congress, said: “When our bravest men and women raise their hand and volunteer to defend our nation, they defend all of her people. Rich and poor, young and old, democrat and republican, gay and straight. Americans of all races, religions, ethnicities, gender identities.
“Our soldiers do not discriminate. They don’t offer to pay the ultimate sacrifice for some Americans and not for others. Their government owes them that same courtesy.”
“To the thousands of brave transgender men and women serving today in uniform, please know that a grateful nation does not take your service, your patriotism for granted. you deserve better from your president, you deserve better from your government, you deserve better from your country.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth said: “When my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.
“If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve—no matter your gender identity, sexual orientation or race. Anything else is discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security.”
The first out transgender people were able to join the military this month, after legal action over the ban.