Majority of Americans support transgender military service

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A majority of Americans believe that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday.

The July 26-28 poll suggested that the country largely disagrees with President Donald Trump's announcement this week that he will ban transgender personnel from the armed forces.

When asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement, "Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military." Twenty-seven percent said they should not while the rest answered "don't know."

Democrats mostly supported military service by transgender Americans while Republicans were divided on the issue.

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Social media reacts to Trump's announcement on transgender persons barred from military
The @ACLU calls Pres Trump's transgender policy statement "an outrageous and desperate action."
Trump's ban on Transgender Americans serving in the U.S. Military is an assault on the LGBT+ community and should not be taken lightly.
Donald Trump said transgender people can no longer serve in "any capacity" in the military What about the thousands already serving?
Thousands of brave transgender Americans serving our nation right now proudly prove you wrong, President Trump. https://t.co/OVyYKzjSQG
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Trump announced transgender ban while his Defense Secretary was ON VACATION. Essentially confirms a political decision from WH, not DOD led
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Of course Trump goes after the transgender. That is what weak bullies do when their egos are threatened--attack the vulnerable.
This morning, President Trump conducted his latest policy roll out via Twitter this time assaulting our brave transgender service members.
Combat vet @SenDuckworth calls new WH transgender military policy "discriminatory and counterproductive to our nati… https://t.co/b6WqqTaH8g
I grew up in a military w/ LGBT people serving in the shadows. We can't let DT turn back the clock on our brave, trans soldiers. #RISEUP
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Among Republicans, 32 percent said transgender people should be allowed to serve, while 49 percent said they should not. Another 19 percent of Republicans said they don't know.

See graphic of poll results: http://tmsnrt.rs/2eUOBTj

The public was also divided over the impact of banning transgender service members. Some 32 percent said it would "hurt morale" in the military while 17 percent said it would "improve morale." Another 33 percent felt it would "have no impact" and the rest said they don't know.

When asked about the impact on military capabilities, 14 percent 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.

The president's announcement, made in posts on his Twitter account, surprised many senior military officers and appeared to pre-empt an ongoing Pentagon review into its inclusion of transgender service members.

The United States' top military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, said the military will not alter its current policies until it receives additional guidance from Trump's secretary of defense.

Roger Kaikko, 61, a Trump voter near Cleveland, Ohio, who took the poll, said he disagrees with the president.

"Even the president shouldn't be able to take rights away from some people just because he may not like them," Kaikko said. "They're people too. Unless they're causing problems, they should serve just like anybody else."

Opinions about the ban probably will not have lasting impact on the president's overall public support, said Jan Leighley, an expert in political behavior at American University.

"For many people, this is just a distant political issue," Leighley said. When compared to health care, immigration or the economy, the president's stance on transgender issues "is not something that's going to change their prior beliefs or attitudes" about Trump.

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. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points for the entire group and 5 percentage points for Democrats and Republicans.

See the poll questionnaire and methodology: http://tmsnrt.rs/2eUlaRr

(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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