President Donald Trump fueled critics of his controversial transgender ban after making a series of statements while on vacation at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“I have great respect for the community,” Trump said Thursday, according to a pool report. “I think I’ve had great support, or I’ve had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes.”
“But the transgender, the military’s working on it now,” Trump continued. “It’s been a very difficult situation and I think I’m doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it. As you know, it’s been a very complicated issue for the military, it’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”
In July, Trump appeared to reverse President Barack Obama’s directive to end the ban on transgender service members by saying on Twitter: “The United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
“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,” Trump continued.
His statement sparked backlash from LGBTQ-rights groups and confusion amongst military service members, as the Pentagon and the White House attempted to deflect media inquiries to each other. Following Trump’s statement, Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a memo that there would be no policy change until Secretary of Defense James Mattis received orders from Trump.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” said Dunford.
In the wake of Trump’s directive, five transgender service members, including veterans of recent wars, sued Trump, claiming that his tweets “violate the rights of the service members to due process and equal protection under the law,” according to Reuters.