Many were shocked to discover that President Trump had proclaimed, via Twitter, that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
While most of this reaction has been in response to the ban itself, much of its intensity is because this policy change is perceived by many to be a result of some personal, anti-LGBT crusade from the Trump administration. What most news headlines are not telling you is that Trump’s proclamation isn’t a totally new policy that has never been implemented, nor is it undoing a long history of open transgender service in the military.
Up until 2016, there were no laws on the books welcoming transgender individuals to openly serve in the military, according to Business Insider. Throughout most of Barack Obama’s presidency, transgender people in the military had to keep their gender identity secret in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” fashion. Trump’s new policy is simply a reversal of the Obama policy, falling in line with many of Trump’s reversals of Obama’s executive orders and actions.
Most Headlines Don’t Mention Obama Policies
Doing a simple Google search of the term “Trump transgender” will yield a plethora of news articles on the subject of the president’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Some of the top titles are “Trump Announces Ban On Transgender People In U.S. Military;” “Trump Says That Transgender People Will Not Be Allowed In The Military;” and “Trump Says Transgender People Won’t Be Allowed To Serve In The US Military ‘In Any Capacity.'” While all of these headlines are factually correct, what they miss is that Trump’s proclamation is actually a reversal of a 2016 Obama policy change. This has led to a large amount of confusion among the consumers of news, many of whom do not read past the headlines to get to the whole story.
On Twitter, the responses are full of vitriol, with those who feel that this was a new development slamming Trump for being “hateful” and accusing him of a lack of patriotism.
Trump supporters, on the other hand, are quick to point out that there was no such outrage during the long period of time before former President Obama created a policy that welcomed open transgender service.
Transgender individuals in the military serve our nation with honor. #Trump’s ban on them serving openly is shortsighted and hateful.
— Rep. Brad Sherman (@BradSherman) July 26, 2017
I'm hurting for all my trans friends in the military. Mr. 45 does not support #LGBTQ people,and he certainly doesn't know what patriotism is
— Grace Hardell (@GraceHardell) July 26, 2017
— Newt-Trump Fan Club (@NewtTrump) July 26, 2017
Other Obama Laws And Policies Trump Has Overturned
President Trump has openly taken aim at former President Barack Obama’s legacy, vowing both with his words and his actions to undo the laws and policies made by his predecessor. According to the Washington Post, Trump’s administration has rolled back 14 rules created by the Obama administration using an application of the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that enables a new administration to quickly abolish rules created by the previous one. The Trump administration has also made at least 52 cabinet-level agency decisions that have undone past Obama decisions, including Wednesday’s rollback of the transgender military policy.
Other enacted rules include overturning Obama-era immigration rules, labor and finance decisions, and environmental regulations. Trump has also used a variety of executive orders to overturn the executive orders and actions of Obama, including withdrawing the United States from the Obama-supported Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, reinstating the “Mexico City Policy” that bans U.S. dollars from funding international groups that perform abortions, and instructing agencies to undo the individual mandate of Obama’s Affordable Care Act ( “Obamacare”).
— BenGarrison Cartoons (@GrrrGraphics) July 26, 2017
Most news articles that mention Trump’s history of overturning Obama rules do not mention all of these actions but only disclose the fact that Trump has overturned Obama’s directive on the transgender use of public school restrooms. While this is a true fact and is likely included due to its relevance to Wednesday’s transgender military law, without the context of the other changes, one may allege that Trump is on a special crusade against the transgender or LGBT community.
While it is impossible to discern President Trump’s true feelings towards the LGBT community, it is clear from his actions that he does not feel that transgender individuals should be serving in the military or use the public school restroom of their choice. The question remains whether these decisions are a result of personal bias or a desire to overturn much of Barack Obama’s progressive agenda.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]