President Donald Trump announced a controversial change to military policy Wednesday morning on Twitter, writing that transgender Americans will no longer be allowed to serve "in any capacity" in the U.S. military.
"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption," Trump added.
The decision has been met with mixed reaction and raises serious questions for thousands of transgender Americans currently serving.
Transgender people have been able to serve openly in the military since June 2016, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended a ban. Trump tweeted at the time, during the presidential campaign, that he would fight for the LGBT community.
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His announcement on Wednesday did not say what would happen to transgender people currently serving in the military.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at an afternoon briefing that the White House and Department of Defense would "have to work together as implementation takes place and is done lawfully."
Nicole Lynn Perry, a transgender Marine veteran from North Texas, was angry and disheartened by the decision Wednesday.
"It was like, I served honorably, why are you preventing others like me who have gone before me, and who want to go after me, why are you preventing them from serving honorably?" Perry said.
Perry fulfilled a lifelong dream to join the military by becoming a Marine, serving from 2008 to 2013.
"To be able to say I served in the Marine Corps, it's a big deal," she said.
It was also challenging. She never told her unit she was transgender. After Perry left the military she began to transition, but she does believe there is a place for everyone in the military.
"Whenever you are in the foxhole, it's your buddy to your left and right. It's your brother, it's your sister. That's it. There is no, 'Oh, well, because they are trans I won't fight for them. Oh, because they are gay I won't fight for them.' No, that's your buddy. You don't care. You are there because you want them and you want yourself to get home alive to their families," Perry said.
The Pentagon has refused to release any data on the number of transgender troops. One study by RAND — a research company that provides analysis to the military — found that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active duty military, and another 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves.
RAND estimated the cost of extending gender transition-related health care coverage for transgender personnel to increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year, representing a boost of between 0.04 percent to 0.13 percent.
Some conservative organizations and lawmakers hailed the decision.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded Trump for "keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation's military."
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said Trump's supporters "will be happy to hear it. We don't need to be experimenting with the military. Plus there's no reason to take on that kind of financial burden."