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Mattis halts Trump’s transgender military ban, says troops can continue to serve while he conducts study

August 30, 2017

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that transgender troops will continue to serve in the U.S. military, pending the results of a study from experts Mattis will select who will provide advice on President Donald Trump’s recent memorandum.

The memo, which Trump signed last week, directs the Pentagon to prohibit transgender people from joining the military, and it gives Mattis the power to remove any transgender service member based on deployability.


Mattis released the following statement on Tuesday:

“The Department of Defense has received the Presidential Memorandum, dated August 25, entitled ‘Military Service by Transgender Individuals.’ The department will carry out the President’s policy direction, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security,” Mattis said. “As directed, we will develop a study and implementation plan, which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law.”

“The soon arriving senior civilian leadership of [the Department of Defense] will play an important role in this effort. The implementation plan will address accessions of transgender individuals and transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military,” Mattis explained.

Mattis continued:

“Our focus must always be on what is best for the military’s combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield. To that end, I will establish a panel of experts serving within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the President’s direction. Panel members will bring mature experience, most notably in combat and deployed operations, and seasoned judgment to this task. The panel will assemble and thoroughly analyze all pertinent data, quantifiable and non-quantifiable. Further information on the panel will be forthcoming.

Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the President concerning implementation of his policy direction. In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place. I expect to issue interim guidance to the force concerning the President’s direction, including any necessary interim adjustments to procedures, to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued.”

The new directive would also end payments for gender reassignment surgeries for those in the military, as well as other medical treatments for gender transitioning.


On July 26, Trump announced the ban in three tweets that seemingly blindsided officials and outraged many people.

“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,” Trump tweeted.

“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,” he said.

Mattis will reportedly have six months to prepare to implement the White House’s directive.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced Monday it is suing Trump over the transgender ban.