Defense Secretary Mattis says transgender military members will continue to serve, for now


On Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis made it clear that active transgender military members will continue to serve as he and other officials conduct a study to determine if transgender people affect the military’s “readiness” and “lethality.”

“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,” Mattis said in a statement. “In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.”

Mattis’ plan, as USA Today explained, will buy the military a bit more time to figure out how best to address the needs of current transgender military members, including if they will continue to receive treatment care or if they will continue to serve at all.

On July 26, President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban both current and incoming transgender military members from serving shocked nearly everyone when he tweeted, “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 added, “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.”

Trump officially notified the military of his intentions for the ban on Friday with a memorandum that read, in part, “In my judgement, the previous administration failed to identify a significant basis to conclude that terminating the department’s long standing policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources, and there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year’s policy change would not have those negative effects.”

Mattis must submit a plan on how to implement the changes to the president by Feb. 21, 2018.