When Donald Trump revealed his intention to prevent “transgender individuals” from “serv[ing] in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he lied about having consulted with his “generals and military experts.” He hadn’t. Pentagon officials were as stunned as the rest of the nation by the President’s Twitter announcement.
But Trump is a wildly successful liar, so few were surprised by that part of the tweet. His supposed reasons for the order were far more insidious and dishonest: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” he claimed, “and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Those concerns, however, had been thoroughly studied and debunked during the Obama Administration. We now have a President tweeting false facts (fake news) to justify discrimination that is unlikely to stand up in either a court of law or the court of public opinion—presuming the public is armed with accurate information.
Sue Fulton—a longtime advocate of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military personnel— called Trump’s proclamation “absurd” and “infuriating.” One of the first women to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy, Fulton was president of the LGBT support group SPARTA when it worked with the Pentagon to help develop the policy Trump wants to overturn. The Pentagon, she told me, “specifically focused on answering the question of readiness and costs that, ironically, are being raised by the President after, I imagine, no study at all.”