On July 26th, 2017, President Trump announced through a series of Tweets that transgender individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
In announcing the ban, President Trump claimed he was advised by “my generals,” but news reports indicated that the Pentagon was caught off guard by the tweets and was unprepared for the policy change — suggesting that the move was not in fact recommended by military leaders.
Emails uncovered by American Oversight in September 2018 showed that senior Pentagon leaders were unaware of the president’s announcement before it happened and, in the words of one top military official, “everyone was caught flat-footed.”
The full set of emails we obtained from the hours following Trump’s tweets are available online here.
American Oversight is continuing to investigate what the DOD knew before this policy change was revealed to the public. We submitted a FOIA request seeking all documents and communications related to this decision, including any analyses or recommendations from any military personnel provided to the White House that could have influenced DOD’s policy regarding the service of transgender individuals in the U.S. military.
Despite surrounding legal battles, federal courts and the Pentagon have subsequently stated that transgender individuals will be able to continue enlisting and serving in the military and can sign up starting January 1, but the White House and Justice Department are fighting to enforce the president’s original ban. American Oversight submitted subsequent FOIA requests seeking additional records from DOD to determine if the White House and military personnel were aware of this policy decision before Trump’s tweets.