The White House is expected to unveil its ban on transgender troops “in coming days,” according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal.
Multiple anonymous sources close to the Oval Office told the Journal that President Donald Trump will be issuing a two-and-a-half page memo outlining the removal of trans service members from the military. It advises Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis to block transgender people from enlisting, reversing the Obama administration’s 2016 decision to lift the historical ban on trans military service.
The document, as sources claim, also advises the armed forces to stop payment for trans health care.
The question over coverage for gender-affirming surgeries and other related care was a bone of contention that led to Trump’s July 26 tweets banning trans military members. The president claimed in his tweets that the cost trans health would be “tremendous.” A 2016 study from the RAND corporation, however, found that the price tag would be negligibleentailing a yearly expenditure of $8.4 million, at the absolute maximum.
In contrast, the Palm Center think tank estimated that removing trans people from service would cost the military $960 million.
Trump’s memo reportedly calls for Mattis to judge whether active duty trans troops will be removed on a case-by-case basis. The standard will be “deployability,” a phrase Reuters has interpreted to mean as “the ability to serve in a war zone, participate in exercises or live for months on a ship.”
Given the president’s stated concerns about the “disruption” trans service entails, it’s difficult to know how that standard will be applied.
Mattis has six months to implement the policy, sources say.
The Journal report echoes comments that Mattis himself made to members of the media in a briefing at the Pentagon last Wednesday, which were later reported by CNN.
“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,” Secretary Mattis said.
This is not the first report about what Trump’s memo, which has been shrouded in secrecy for the past month, will actually entail. The Washington Blade claimed in an August 4 story that the policy would “encourage early retirement, usher out any enlisted personnel after their contract is up, and would fire trans officers up for promotion.”
“The administration wants to get rid of transgender service members as fast as they can,” a source told the Blade.
LGBTQ advocates have repeatedly criticized the president’s military policies since they were originally announced. After news of the memo leaked Wednesday, those concerns intensified. The National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a press release that the policy “poses a serious threat to our nation’s longstanding commitment to honor those who serve.”
Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Trans Equality, claimed that the Trump administration is “doubling down on discrimination.”
“This is an insult to, and an attack on, thousands of trained, capable service members and veterans; and it is blatantly unconstitutional,” Kiesling said in a statement. “Transgender service members do their jobs, serving the country they love, and are no less able to serve and deploy than anyone else.”
Multiple LGBTQ advocacy groups stated that they plan to challenge the policy through legal action. In addition, five trans military members already filed suit against the White House, naming Trump as a defendant.