The Trump Administration has a new policy on the sticky subject of transgender troops that will likely restrict their service. The policy is slated to go into effect on Friday and comes after months of court challenges and talks inside the Defense Department.
In August, President Trump sent Defense Secretary Jim Mattis a memo ordering him to propose changes to the Obama-era policy that allows transgender troops to serve openly and receive medical treatment, including sexual reassignment surgery.
Mattis made his recommendation on transgender service to the White House in February. If Trump does not accept it, the Pentagon will revert to its pre-2016 practice that effectively banned transgender troops from service on medical grounds, according to the memo.
Mattis, since taking charge at the Pentagon, has emphasized the readiness of troops to deploy and fight. In February, the Pentagon established a policy that dismisses troops if they cannot deploy for a period of one year. Presumably, that principle could affect transgender troops who require medical care that could not be provided in a war zone.
Federal courts have ruled that the Pentagon must allow transgender troops to volunteer for service. Several transgender recruits have signed up since becoming eligible Jan. 1.
A RAND Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon in 2016 found that there could be several thousand transgender troops among the active-duty force of one million. The report determined that their medical treatment would have a minimal impact on military readiness.
Under the current policy since 2016, transgender troops can serve openly seek medical attention and allows recruits to join the military if they have been stable in their gender for at least 18 months.
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