NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump said transgender people will not be allowed to serve “in any capacity” in the U.S. armed forces.
The president tweeted Wednesday morning that after consulting with “generals and military experts” the 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. Thank you,” Trump added.
The president did not respond to a question at the White House on his decision not to accept or allow transgender people in the military.
“She’s very rude,” he said, following an inquiry shouted from the crowd.
The president cited the “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
“This was about military readiness, this was about unit cohesion, this was about resources within the military,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
The Pentagon, which appeared to be caught off-guard by Trump’s tweets is referring all questions about them to the White House.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said in a brief written statement that the Pentagon is working with the White House to “address” what he calls “the new guidance” from the president on transgender individuals serving in the military.
Davis said the Pentagon will provide revised guidance to Defense Department officials “in the near future.”
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Military chiefs recently announced a delay on allowing transgender people from enlisting. But transgender troops are already serving openly in the military.
“The decision is based on a military decision, it’s not meant to be more than that, obviously it’s a very difficult decision it’s not a simple one, but the president feels that it’s the best one for the military,” Sanders said.
Critics pointed to a Trump tweet from June of 2016 during the campaign.
“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” he wrote.
It is unclear what will happen to active transgender servicemembers.
“That’s something that the Department of Defense and the White House will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully,” Huckabee Sanders said.
Carter criticized Trump’s decision, issuing a statement saying that the important thing for choosing who is allowed to serve is whether they are best qualified.
“To choose service members on other grounds than military qualification,” he said, “is social policy and has no place in our military.”
Carter added that transgender individuals already are serving capably and honorably in the military.
As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, protesters gathered in Times Square Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate against Trump’s decision.
The vow to fight the policy was delivered loud and clear at the rally. As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, numerous outraged New Yorkers rallied with signs as speakers addressed the crowd through a bullhorn.
“I can’t believe he’s discriminating against who should have the right to serve our country,” said transgender Army veteran Tanya Walker.
Mel Wymore is running to become the first trans person on the City Council.
“Trump is literally creating a generation of children growing up believing that their country hates them; living daily in that kind of fear,” Wymore said.
And fear was a key component of the resistance rally, with several speakers talking of their shared fear that a roll back in rights for one group will lead to a diminishing of rights for all.
Public Advocate Letitia James said what is happening now in the military makes it even more important for Americans to vote their heart in the coming elections.
“We will not be divided by race. We will not be divided as a country. We will all rise up and resist this man,” James said.
“So it’s been a busy day from healthcare to the rights of all people,” city Comptroller Scott Stringer added at the rally. “This resistance is just getting started!”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also issued a statement protesting against Trump’s decision.
“President Trump’s decision to ban transgender troops from military service is both fundamentally un-American and unconscionable. The United States should be leading the way on inclusivity and diversity, not running away from it,” de Blasio said in the statement. “The brave Americans who choose to dedicate themselves to serving this nation deserve dignity and respect, regardless of their gender identity. There is no doubt that our military is only made more mighty when it embraces the inclusivity and diversity at the bedrock of our nation.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the directive “intolerable.”
“This administration’s directive against the transgender community is intolerable, unjust, and a betrayal of our values,” Cuomo tweeted. “New York stands united with the transgender community, and against those who seek to drive us apart.”
New York City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who has long-championed LGBT rights, said he’s outraged.
“This president is a bully; this president is using his presidency to take the most vulnerable among us and separate them from us, and deny them their heroism and their courage when they want to serve our country, and they want and are willing to risk their lives so that we can be free,” Van Bramer said.
Calling Trump’s plan “ignorant and profoundly troubling,” Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed an executive order Wednesday directing the Connecticut National Guard not to discriminate against transgender people.
His executive order directs the Connecticut National Guard, the Connecticut Air National Guard, and the other armed forces of the state to take no action that discriminates against service members in enlistment, promotion, or any other aspect of their service.
The order would be superseded by any federal law, regulation, or formal directive from the U.S. Department of Defense.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)