Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis will recommend transgender troops continue to serve, according to the Washington Post. The report cites two unnamed officials who say Mattis will go against Trump’s call last July to ban transgender military service.
The news comes a day after the Pentagon failed to meet its Feb. 21 deadline to make those recommendations.
It also seemingly flies in the face of LGBTQ advocates’ expectations who were preparing for Mattis to state that transgender people are unfit for service.
The Palm Center, a think tank that focuses on gender and sexuality in the military, issued a statement Tuesday condemning the Pentagon’s expected plan to enforce the ban.
“Eighteen foreign militaries allow transgender troops to serve openly, and none have reported any compromise to readiness,” said Director Aaron Belkin in a statement. “The Trump administration should not politicize the evidence to score political points with its anti-LGBT base.”
The American Psychological Association similarly prepped a denunciation of the anticipated announcement.
But as Wednesday wore down, no announcement came.
Pentagon Spokesman Major Dave Eastburn had told INTO that the recommendations would not be made public but would go straight to the White House. Eastburn says a policy announcement will be made March 23.
Trump was clear in July that he doesn’t want trans people in the 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,” he tweeted.
Four federal courts have already ruled against the ban, and transgender people are currently serving.
The National Center for Transgender Equality responded to reports that Mattis will back transgender service in a statement.
“Transgender troops have always served our country, and thousands of trained and capable transgender troops have been serving ably and openly for nearly two years without issue,” says Executive Director Mara Keisling. “It’s no wonder the Secretary doesn’t want to cause needless chaos for the military and discard valuable personnel with critical skills just because of who they are.”
Questions remain, however. As late as Tuesday, some reports suggested that Mattis was still mulling over the Pentagon’s stance.
Chris Johnson, reporter for the Washington Blade, tweeted that sources claimed Mattis “has multiple versions of recommendations to pick from and has yet to make a decision before deadline.”
Pentagon’s recommendation on trangender military service due tomorrow.
Sources telling me SECDEF has multiple versions of recommendations to pick from and has yet to make a decision before deadline.
— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) February 20, 2018
Even if Mattis recommends trans military service, Trump could ignore those suggestions.
According to Michael Wolff’s explosive book Fire and Fury, Trump was presented “with four different options related to the military’s transgender policy.” Instead of further weighing the issue with advisors, he tweeted the ban 10 minutes later.