The motive behind President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to ban transgender people from the military was reportedly to protect funding for his planned border wall between the United States and Mexico.
House Republicans were on the verge of passing a spending bill that included many campaign promises by Trump, including money to build his border wall, Politico reported. But a disagreement between defense hawks and other House Republicans over transgender troops was threatening the legislation.
Defense hawks and numerous House conservatives reportedly wanted to ban Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations, which they deemed a waste of taxpayer money. But moderate Republicans felt the proposal was blatantly discriminatory, placing GOP leaders in a compromising position.
Defense hawks and House conservatives felt so strongly about the taxpayer-funded gender reassignment operations that they threatened to derail the legislation that would pass the spending bill for Trump's wall -- among other things promised in his presidential campaign.
“There are several members of the conference who feel this really needs to be addressed,” senior Republican House Appropriations Committee member Robert Aderholt of Alabama told 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.”
So they turned to the president, who then took to Twitter to announce that the military would no longer be accepting transgender people.
"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," the president tweeted on July 26. "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."
Several social media users responded to the president's tweets. Reactions were mixed, although an overwhelming number of people appeared to believe that Trump's new rule was discriminatory and disgraceful.
"This is not about medical costs or 'disruption,'" wrote one Twitter user. "This is an agenda built on discrimination. We cannot let him win #TransRightsAreHumanRights."
"U r a disgrace. These r patriotic Americans. Human beings," wrote another. "What happened 2 protecting the LGBTQIA community? We r burdened by ur ignorance."
"Thank God! The military is supposed to focus on keeping us safe, PERIOD!" wrote another, who appeared to agree with the president.
"And transgender people help keep us safe?" one user responded. "What does them being transgender have to do with their ability to fight for our country?
"If he is really so concerned about the costs then maybe he should stop the millions that go into Viagra for the military every year," suggested another user.
A Rand Corp study estimates that there have been anywhere between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active-duty military, and an additional 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves, The Guardian reported.
Up to 250 service members are currently in the process of changing their gender identity, and have been formally approved within the Pentagon’s personnel system, according to several defense officials.