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UK military chiefs praise transgender troops in wake of Trump ban

2017-07-27
UK military chiefs have spoken out in support of transgender servicemen in the wake of Donald Trump's announcement of a transgender military ban in the US. The US president and Commander-in-Chief announced on Twitter on Wednesday (July 27) that his administration will prevent transgender Americans from serving in the US military "in any capacity". As well as preventing the armed forces from accepting transgender recruits, Trump's announcement leaves the fate of serving transgender servicemen and women - estimated to number in the thousands - in doubt. Following the announcement, some of the highest-ranking commanders in the UK armed forces publicly expressed their support for transgender military personnel. Commander of UK Maritime Forces Rear Admiral Alex Burton wrote on Twitter: "I am so glad we are not going this way." His support for transgender troops was echoed by Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock, who praised the "diversity" of the British Royal Navy. "So proud of our Transgender personnel," he wrote on Twitter. He added: "I will always support their desire to serve their country." Former US President Barack Obama announced that transgender US servicemen would be allowed to serve openly in the military last year. US Defence Secretary James Maitlis had been expected to lift the ban on recruiting transgender people this month, but asked for a six-month postponement on the issue in June. In Wednesday's Twitter announcement, Trump attempted to justify his discriminatory policy by arguing that the "tremendous medical costs" of allowing transgender people to serve would "burden" the US military. Currently, transgender troops are eligible to have medical costs relating to their transition paid for, but since Trump's announcement it has emerged that the US military spends roughly five times the amount of transition-related medical costs on erectile dysfunction medicine for troops alone. Meanwhile, the UK's Ministry of Defence has said that President Trump's latest policy announcement is "an American issue". A spokesperson told BBC: "We are clear that all LGBT members of our armed forces play a vital role in keeping our nation safe. We will continue to welcome people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including transgender personnel." More stories: Theresa May admits Tories were 'wrong' on LGBT rights Trump voter Caitlyn Jenner just had the nerve to slam the trans military ban