Trump signs memo banning transgender troop recruits

by Abel Hampton August 28, 2017, 0:58
Trump signs memo banning transgender troop recruits

A White House official who briefed reporters about the memo declined to specify whether transgender individuals who are now active in the military could continue to serve based on such criteria.

"It would be a step in the wrong direction to force now serving transgender individuals to leave the military exclusively on the basis of their gender identity rather than medical and readiness standards that should always be at the heart of Department of Defense personnel policy", McCain said.

The Obama administration lifted the transgender ban in 2016, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter saying at the time that there are an estimated 2500 active duty service members who are transgender.

"In President Trump's judgment, the previous administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating long-standing policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness, disrupt unit cohesion, tax military resources", a senior administration official said Friday.

The policy prohibiting transgender individuals serving in the military is restored by the memo.

The White House memo says the Pentagon should submit final plans on implementation to the White House by February 21, 2018.

The order comes one month after Trump's spontaneous tweets announcing the ban.

It concluded that allowing them to serve openly would have a minimal impact on the readiness and health care costs of the 1.3-million-member US military force.

Mr Mattis had delayed that to January 1 2018, but Mr Trump has now instructed him to extend it indefinitely.

The policy had looked on shaky ground since Mr Trump won the election and Defence Secretary Mattis had already previously approved a six-month delay to Mr Obama's plan to start enlisting transgender recruits on July 2017.

The GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) - which jointly filed a federal suit on August 9 on behalf of five transgender troops contesting the ban - in a Friday statement called the memo a "senseless and unprecedented attack on dedicated service members who have played by the rules". 'Backward step' for civil rights Active-duty transgender troops said the policy change is a step backward for civil rights that will promote inequality in the armed forces. "This policy is based on a series of national security considerations".

As for how trans people now serving in the military are to be treated under this new policy, things aren't yet clear. "To pull the rug out from under a group of service members who have been defending our country is inconsistent with two centuries of American history". RAND Corp. estimates that between 1,320 and 6,600 are serving, while advocacy groups suggest there are about 15,000 transgender service members.

Carl Tobias, a legal expert at the University of Richmond's School of Law, said he interprets Trump's tweets as leaving open the chance for some transgender service members to stay.

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