President Trump announced Wednesday, via Twitter, that transgender troops would be banned from military service in any capacity.
Many believe this to be the slippery slope to the reinstatement of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." However, the news comes on the heels of an announcement last month that there would be a hold on the accession of transgender troops until January 1, 2018.
The Pentagon cited the need to further review the policy change that was implemented under the Obama administration. Trump's announcement also comes in the wake of a failed attempt in the House to block the military from paying the extremely high costs associated with gender reassignment surgery.
In what seems like an odd political move, Trump took to Twitter to announce the ban, instead of the more traditional -- and some might say appropriate -- press conference or press release.
In a series of tweets he said:
Wednesday's Twitter announcement came as a shock to military leaders. Base commanders were given no information or directives before this major policy shift.
Currently, the Pentagon has no official comment and are referring journalists to the president's tweets.
It is estimated that between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender individuals are currently serving on active duty, and today's announcement gave no indication of what would happen to them, although the presidents tweets could be taken to mean that those troops would be discharged from service forthwith.
Some media outlets question the timing of this announcement, but most just slam the announcement as a political stunt motivated by bigotry.
However, the Obama administration is essentially responsible for the timing of this announcement, as Phase Two of its integration of LGBT service members was set to begin on July 1, before Pentagon leadership asked for an extension at the end of June.
Ironically, the ban was announced on the same day that President Truman ordered full racial integration of the military in 1948.
Some lawmakers and conservative groups were happy with the announcement.
In a statement released on the Family Research Council's website, President Tony Perkins, a Marine Corps veteran, said:
"I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities – and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation's military." - Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Perkins added, "The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda."
The statement cited a Rasmussen survey released last month that said just 23% of voters favored a policy of allowing openly transgender people to serve in the military.
The same Rasmussen survey found that nearly half of voters favored delaying the enlistments of transgender people, pending further study.
The timing of the survey coincides with the announcement by the Pentagon last month that it would, in fact, delay the enlistment of transgender people.
Just last week, an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that would provide funding for gender reassignment surgery was narrowly defeated in the US House.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) said the outcome of the vote was disappointing and said the surgery was "very costly" and added that the total cost of transition-related care could be in the millions of dollars per year.
It's important to note that not all transgender individuals desire or are candidates for gender reassignment surgery, meaning "transition care" doesn't universally apply to all transgender service members.
Supporters of the Hartzler amendment have not given up yet, however. They are attempting to use some back door procedures to include the amendment on the defense appropriations bill. Though it may quickly become a non-issue with this ban.
Exactly how President Trump will go about the ban, whether by legislation or executive order, remains to be seen, as details have not yet been released.