Defense Secretary Mattis says transgender troops can serve, pending study

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Tuesday that transgender troops can continue to serve in the military pending the results of a study.
By Ian Marsh | Sep 01, 2017
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Tuesday that transgender troops can continue to serve in the military pending the results of a study.

Just days earlier, President Trump signed a memo prohibiting transgender people from enlisting in the armed services. The memo also instructs Mattis to further study how to deal with transgender people currently serving in the military.

"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," said Mattis in a statement, as reported by The Hill. "In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place."

Trump's memo requests the Pentagon come up with an implementation plan by Feb. 21, 2018.

"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," Mattis said.

Trump's memo also orders the Pentagon to stop paying for gender reassignment surgeries, except in cases already in progress to "protect the health of an individual."

Before former President Obama lifted the ban on transgender troops in the military, his administration spent years reviewing the issue. This included a comprehensive study by the Rand Corp., which found transgender medical services amounted to minor costs and no negative impacts by transgender troop presence on overall readiness.

More than a dozen other nations permit transgender troops to serve openly in the military without difficulties, according to The Washington Post.

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