What happens to transgender troops? Pentagon doesn’t know – McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Pentagon was blindsided by President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that his administration would block transgender people from the U.S. military, and the Defense Department has no idea yet how it will affect troops already serving.

The president’s declaration on Twitter, saying transgender people would not be allowed to serve “in any capacity,” came a year after the Defense Department under former president Barack Obama lifted its ban on transgender troops serving openly.

On Wednesday, neither the Pentagon nor the White House could answer how the Trump administration intends to carry out such a ban — announced while Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on vacation — or what it means for the thousands of transgender people already serving in the military.

The sudden blanket ban on all transgender troops seemed to take everyone by surprise in its scope. Lawmakers had been debating funding for medical care for transgender troops, and military leaders had been analyzing the impact of allowing transgender recruits. But no one had been debating a reversal of the existing policy allowing transgender troops to serve in the military.

Trump’s language indicated that those currently serving could be forced out, which advocates condemned as a betrayal after transgender troops were encouraged to identify themselves and serve openly after last year’s policy change. Military LGBT groups and civil rights groups threatened to sue if troops are not allowed to serve based on their gender identity.

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