U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that transgender people may not serve "in any capacity" in the U.S. military, reversing plans put in place by his predecessor Barack Obama.
Trump said in a series of Twitter posts on July 26 that his decision was aimed at avoiding the "tremendous medical costs and disruption" their presence would cause.
"After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military," Trump tweeted.
"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," he added.
Trump’s Twitter comments did not say what would happen to those already serving.
The RAND Corporation think tank estimates there currently are 1,320-6,630 transgender individuals among the 1.3 million active-duty service members and 1,510 in the reserves.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said on July 26 that it would work closely with the White House to address Trump's new guidance on transgender policy.
In late June, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis approved a six-month delay in the implementation of the plan put in place by Obama's administration to start accepting transgender recruits.
But General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in June there was no review underway that would affect the ability of transgender personnel already in the armed forces "to continue serving, providing they can meet the physical and mental qualifications of service."
The issue of transgender rights in the United States has been increasingly in the spotlight in recent months, especially over how states regulate the use of public toilets.
The Trump administration faced protests earlier in 2017 after it reversed Obama-era federal protections that urged schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity, not the gender on their birth certificate.
With reporting by AFP, AP, and The Washington Examiner