US President Donald Trump’s ban on trans people in the military came into effect on Friday, in a move that LGBTI groups have said will increase stigma and mental health problems.

The new policy, signed by Trump last year, bans openly trans people from enlisting and dictates that those already serving will be discharged, The Guardian reported.

LGBTI organisations have said the ban will force trans people to choose between hiding their identities and losing their jobs, comparing it to the US military’s former ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on gay troops.

“With the implementation of this transgender military ban, our nation is once again shamefully forcing brave American heroes to hide who they are in order to serve,” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association.

More than 10,000 trans people are estimated to currently be serving.

Transition-related healthcare expenses are often cited as a reason for the ban, but in reality this is a tiny cost, with the military spending five times as much on Viagra alone.

Trans veterans spoke out earlier this year against the ban, calling it “bullshit” and saying they were “heartbroken”.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called it “transphobia masquerading as policy”.

An exception to the trans ban will allow troops who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria during the Obama-era policy of trans inclusion to remain in the military, and serve as their self-identified gender.

Legal challenges to the ban are expected to take months or years to be completed.

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