The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night that the White House is preparing to send guidance to the Pentagon to implement President Trump’s ban on transgender people being allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
According to the memo, which SOFREP was not able to independently verify, the new regulations will include barring transgender applicants from entering the service, and will require that transgender service members be evaluated based on whether or not they are deployable to determine if they will be separated. Per the memo, the military will be barred from paying for any further medical treatments or procedures tied to gender transitioning.
It remains unclear whether the memo has been finalized, but sources within the White House say it should reach the Pentagon within days. Pentagon spokesmen chose not to address the topic until the memo actually reaches them for action, saying on Wednesday that the Defense Department “has not received formal guidance from the White House as a follow-up to the Commander-in-Chief’s announcement on military service by transgender personnel.”
“The (Defense) Department continues to focus on our mission of defending our nation and ongoing operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect,” the statement read.
On July 26th, President Trump took to Twitter to announce that he intended to bar transgender individuals from service, prompting a heated social media debate on the expenses involved in the medical treatments, as well as the merits of his concerns. The announcement indicated his intent to reverse the policy implemented by the Department of Defense under President Barack Obama.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.” The President wrote over three tweets.
According to at least three senior defense officials, those tweets were the first indication they received that the president intended to reverse the Obama era policy. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told service members and the media at the time that there would be “no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidelines.”
It would seem those guidelines will now be forthcoming. Last week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis addressed the expected memo when asked by the press, assuming a seemingly less controversial stance on the subject, and admitting that it was a complex one.
The policy is going to address whether or not transgenders can serve under what conditions, what medical support they require, how much time would they be perhaps non-deployable, leaving others to pick up their share of everything,” Mattis said.
“There’s a host of issues and I’m learning more about this than I ever thought I would, and it’s obviously very complex to include the privacy issues, which we respect,” Mattis said. “I am waiting right now to get the President’s guidance in, and that, I expect, (will) be very soon.”
Ultimately, it will be Mattis who is responsible for establishing how President Trump’s guidelines are implemented, and it’s expected that he’ll be given six months to do so, once the memo reaches his desk.
When the President’s announcement hit Twitter, it drew criticism from politicians on both sides of the fence. Senator John McCain, who President Trump called out in a recent press conference for casting the vote that killed his appeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), released a statement responding to Trump’s ban.
“There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military – regardless of their gender identity,” the Senator wrote.
According to a Rand Corporation study released in 2016, there are currently between 1,320 and 1,600 transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military.
Image courtesy of the Defense Dept.
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