When Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that the U.S. will no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in the armed forces, he blindsided the military community, from top leaders all the way down to cadets.
The move is an apparent reversal of an Obama-administration policy that allowed trans individuals to openly serve. And while neither the White House nor the Department of Defense has made an official statement about what the policy would look like, the nation’s top military leader has since clarified that no official changes have been made.
“If somebody wants to make the adult decision that they would like to use their body and their time as a way to give back to society, why should they be denied that right?” said one Reserve Officers’ Training Corps member who spoke to VICE News on the condition of anonymity.
As many as 6,630 transgender individuals currently serve in active duty across all branches of the military. We spoke with several of them, as well as veterans, about how they’re responding to Trump’s announcement.