Posted with permission from Newsweek
The reasoning behind President Donald Trump’s sudden Twitter announcement Wednesday that upended Capitol Hill, the military and LGBT rights activists—that transgender people would be banned from military service—reportedly came down to one factor: funding for the billionaire’s much-hyped idea of constructing a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
In order to boost that funding, public funding of surgeries for transgender service members would be removed from a defense spending bill that would fulfill the president’s promises to increase military spending and construct that wall. Conservative Republicans and national defense "hawks" have been focusing on the costs of surgeries as the House tinkered with the bill, and Trump made his decision in order to make sure the bill would move forward, Politico reported, citing White House and congressional sources.
There are nearly 7,000 transgender individuals who are serving in the military in some capacity, and how they would be affected going forward has yet to be announced. A policy put in place by President Barack Obama, which is now being overturned, allowed transgender troops to serve openly.
Stating that the president had made his decision Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during Wednesday’s press briefing the Defense Department and the White House would coordinate on how to “lawfully” determine and implement the new policy toward transgender members of the Armed Services.
Sanders also said the military’s current acceptance of transgender individuals is an “expensive and disruptive policy.”
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had been quiet on the issue, but the report asserts he had been consulted before Trump’s tweets.
Trump unleashed a series of tweets stating after he had consulted with top military brass, it was decided the government would not “accept or allow…transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military
For some Republicans, the announced ban was not a matter of discrimination but of the use of taxpayer dollars.
“There are several members of the conference who feel this really needs to be addressed,” said Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, according to Politico. “This isn’t about the transgender issue; it’s about the taxpayer dollars going to pay for the surgery out of the defense budget."