WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump defended his decision to ban transgender individuals from the military, saying that he’s doing the armed forces a “great favor” on an issue he calls “complicated” and “confusing.”
Trump, speaking to reporters in Bedminster, N.J., said that he has “great respect” for the transgender community.
“I think I’ve had great support, or I’ve had great support from that community,” he said. “I got a lot of votes. But the transgender, the military’s working on it now.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
Trump’s announcement of the ban, in a tweet on July 26, reportedly caught military leaders by surprise. Defense Secretary James Mattis had announced that the department was reviewing the policy, but that was expected to last through the end of the year.
Trump’s announcement of the ban drew criticism from the LGBT community, Democrats, and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. Caitlyn Jenner wrote on Twitter, “There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them?”
Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, called Trump’s comments on Thursday “delusional.”
“Donald Trump’s attack on transgender troops weakens our military and is a betrayal of those who wear the uniform,” Griffin said. “Fifty-six retired admirals and generals, Republican and Democrat elected officials, and a majority of the American public have all condemned Trump’s misguided and despicable policy that will do nothing but undermine military readiness and harm brave transgender service members and their families.”