The majority of American adults disagreed with President Donald Trump’s initiative and support transgender people from serving in the military, according to a new poll. Only 27 percent of those polled agreed with the president and the remainder didn’t know, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Friday.
The majority of Democrats were in support of military service by transgender Americans.
Republicans, however, were more fractured in their opinion, according to the Reuters poll. The largest group, 49 percent, agreed with Trump’s proposed transgender ban, 32 percent said they should be allowed to service and 19 percent did not know.
Trump’s unexpected announcement on Twitter on Wednesday that the US military would “not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity,” overturned a year-old policy. It created a firestorm on social media and led to a protest by elected officials and several hundred participants in Times Square in New York that evening.
Trump claimed that the policy “burdened [the military] with the tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
The policy was said to have surprised many senior military officers.
Under the Obama administration, in June 2016, the Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a new policy that allowed transgender service members to serve openly and provided them with a process to transition while serving in the military.
On June 30, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delayed processing transgender recruits until January 1, 2018, in order to give the joint chiefs time to review the potential impact on “readiness and lethality of our forces.” However, the delay does not prevent soldiers that are currently serving from transitioning.
The United States’ top military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, said the military would not alter its current policies until it receives additional guidance from Trump’s secretary of defense.
When asked about the impact on military capabilities, 14 percent of the public said prohibiting transgender service members made the military “more capable” while 43 percent said “no impact,” 22 percent said “less capable” and the rest said they don’t know.
When the public was asked about how the ban would affect transgender service members there was more division. Some 32 percent replied it would “hurt morale” while 17 percent said it would “improve morale” in the military. While 33 percent said it would “have no impact” and the remainder said they didn’t know.
The Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll was conducted online in English across the United States. It gathered responses from 1,249 adults, including 533 Democrats and 434 Republicans.