Mattis assembling panel to discuss transgender troops

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has confirmed that the military will not be removing transgender members of the Armed Forces in the immediate future, stalling Donald Trump's proposed ban.

The Department of Defense has received the Presidential Memorandum, dated August 25, 2017, entitled "Military Service by Transgender Individuals".

The original ban on transgender troops was lifted a year ago under former President Barack Obama but Trump reinstated it Friday, citing cost and disruption.

The Rand study looked at the effects of integration efforts of foreign militaries and determined "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness".

The BBC said the measure could affect between 4,000 and 10,000 active-duty and reserve service members.

How many transgender service members are in the military?

Trump barred transgender would-be recruits from signing up, but he gave Mattis discretion to decide the status of transgender people who are already serving.

The House has already taken a vote on the issue - before Trump announced his ban - when 24 Republicans helped Democrats block an amendment to prevent the Pentagon from paying for the cost of transgender medical procedures.

Mattis says he's delaying implementation of the order until military experts weigh in on the issue since most experts agree that the ban would be a awful idea.

In the defense secretary's official statement, Mattis said the department will "carry out the president's policy direction" and that the department will create a study and implementation plan "as directed" by Trump's memo.

Regardless of one's views on transgender people, most would agree this ban is unnecessary.

"President Trump's actions immediately caused the individual plaintiffs and other transgender service members to fear for their careers, the well-being of their family members and dependents, their health care and, in some cases, their safety", states an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed Monday in Baltimore federal court. However, his announcement is more complicated than it may seem, as he has not clarified whether the ban is only temporarily on hold, or permanently finished.

While Trump has said that the U.S. won't allow transgender people "to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military", he has maintained a similar divide.

In a statement last week, McCain said it would be "a step in the wrong direction" to force transgender individuals out of the military exclusively on the basis of gender identity.

Mattis has previously expressed that his main concern is military readiness and not political issues.

The military now is the largest employer of transgender Americans with over 12,800 now serving.

  • Joey Payne