UPDATE 2 — 8/24, 9:08 a.m. EDT: Federal officials told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that a White House memo will be sent to the Pentagon within days guiding policy on transgender service members’ military status.
Specifically, the Trump administration will direct Defense Secretary James Mattis to enforce new guidelines within six months which considers a transgender individuals “deployability” in deciding whether to allow them to continue to serve.
The White House will also instruct the Pentagon not to admit new transgender service members and to discontinue providing medical procedures specific to individuals transitioning from one gender to another.
UPDATE — 8/18, 6:44 p.m. EDT: A federal civil rights panel released a statement Friday criticizing President Trump’s July comments on banning transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military.
“The President’s mere announcement . . . harms all Americans by sending a message that fosters and encourages prejudice, inconsistent with our core national values,” the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said. “If implemented, the ban would further harm Americans, and weaken our defense, by enshrining unequal treatment of Americans based on rank stereotype.”
Last week, Trump said banning transgenders would be “doing the military a great favor.”
Five unnamed active duty military personnel slammed President Trump with a lawsuit on Wednesday, Aug. 9, in a Washington, D.C., federal court. The suit was filed in response to Trump’s shocking July 26 announcement which proposed banning transgender Americans from enlisting or serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. armed forces.
The suit, filed by non-profits GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, claims that Trump’s proposed ban violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
“The directive to reinstate a ban on open service by transgender people violates both the Equal Protection component of the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” says the suit.
Trump declared on Twitter that the reason for the ban was two-fold: transgender members create “tremendous medical costs and disruption” for the military.
The announcement comes in spite of a 2016 report commissioned by the Pentagon and conducted by the RAND Corporation under the Obama administration. The study found transgenders in the military would “cost little and have no significant impact on readiness.”
Citing last year’s study, President Obama lifted the military’s ban on transgender individuals in June 2016. Trump’s proposal targeting active duty and reserve duty transgender military members threatens to reverse the previous administration’s policy.
In a press conference at his New Jersey golf club on Thursday, August 10, Trump expressed the belief that he was doing a “great favor” to the military with the ban.
When pressed for more details on the subject on Monday at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis declined to address the subject head on. However he hinted that the White House had yet to provide any concrete guidance as to the issue at hand.
As of Wednesday, no formal policy has been issued by the White House or the Department of Defense as to what will happen regarding current transgender military members or those with plans to enlist.
[Washington Post] [Reuters] [New York Times] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via KCRG-TV9]