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Yesterday Donald Trump made the announcement of banning transgender individuals from serving in the US military. His decision came as a surprise, and even the Defense Secretary James Mattis was only given a day’s notice about the move. The announcement was made on his twitter account.

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“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals 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 that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you” Trump wrote in a series of Tweets

His argument for the move was that the military should not be bearing the medical costs for their transition surgeries. The White House has yet to announce the legal mechanism to be used in order to implement the ban.

According to a study by the Pentagon, somewhere between 2000 and 11,000 transgender individuals are currently serving the military. Their fate at the moment is completely unclear.

The move came at a time when there was a debate going on in Washington about whether or not transformation surgeries should be funded under the military health insurance. Instead of part-taking in the debate, Trump ended it by banning the transgender individuals altogether.

The situation has caused an uproar around the US. A large number of civil-rights groups are preparing to take legal action in case Trump tries to follow through with the decision.

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The ban would reverse the transformation of the military under President Barack Obama, whose administration announced just last year that transgender people could serve openly in the military. It is also important to note that during his campaign, Trump had painted himself as an ally of the LGBT rights movement.

A possible diversion

A very important factor to keep in mind is that this entire fiasco comes at a time when Trump is under fire for his relations with Russia. The investigation has been gaining speed in recent months and looks at whether any of Mr. Trump’s campaign associates were involved in Russian efforts to meddle in the election.

Even Donald Trump Jr. has entered the investigation because of his infamous meeting with Russian businessmen and officials in order to receive information to use against Hillary Clinton.

In recent days the relationship between Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been the center of attention. Sessions had declared himself unfit to be a part of the investigation against Trump, thus leaving him without a possible ally in the investigation. The reason he gave for his anger against Sessions was his ‘very weak position’ while investigating Hillary Clinton.

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With the sudden interest in Trump’s Russian and private dealings, it is very much possible that he is using these scandals in order to divert attention from the investigations. It is very clear that most media outlets have begun focusing on the transgender ban as opposed to the investigation.

“What’s going on is a very systematic two-tiered operation. One of them is Trump, Bannon, the effort to try to make sure you capture the headlines, that you’re top of the news, one crazy thing after another just to capture people’s attention. And the assumption is ‘Well they’re gonna forget later anyway.’” Noam Chomsky 

Considering the abruptness and intensity of the move, pundits have termed it as another attempt by President Trump to sway the public’s attention from the investigation that is heading towards him. Whether it was intentional or not, can only be speculated, but it has, without a doubt, captured the public’s attention.

M. Usama Khawar is an undergraduate student currently pursuing a degree in the Social Sciences from The Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. His writing interests are vast, ranging from culture to philosophy to psychology.

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