White House to send memo to Pentagon soon
on transgender ban
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[August 24, 2017]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White
House is expected to tell the Pentagon in coming days how to implement a
ban on transgender people in the military, according to a memo that says
the defense secretary may decide whether to remove service members based
on their ability to deploy, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.
The two-and-a-half-page White House document gives Defense Secretary Jim
Mattis six months to fully implement the ban, according to a story first
reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by the official.
It also directs the Defense Department to deny admittance to transgender
individuals and to stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those
currently serving, the Journal reported, citing U.S. officials.
Mattis is expected to consider “deployability” - meaning the ability to
serve in a war zone, participate in exercises or live for months on a
ship - as the main legal reason to decide whether to separate service
members from the military, the Journal reported.
President Donald Trump said on Twitter on July 26 that the U.S.
government "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in
any capacity" in the military, a reversal of Pentagon policy.
The surprise announcement, citing healthcare costs and unit disruption,
appealed to some in Trump's conservative political base but created
uncertainty for thousands of transgender service members, many of whom
came out after the Pentagon said in 2016 it would allow transgender
people to serve openly.
Five transgender members of the U.S. military including Iraq and
Afghanistan war veterans sued Trump earlier this month, saying that the
ban was made without consulting senior military commanders. It named as
defendants Trump, Mattis and other military leaders including Joseph
Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. military personnel
at Naval Air Station Sigonella following the G7 Summit, in
Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit
Dunford said in a memo a day after Trump's tweets that there would
be no change in policy until Mattis received an official order from
Stephen Peters at the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for
LGBTQ rights, responded in a tweet: "This proves @realdonaldtrump
knows nothing about what it means to be #transgender or to serve in
the military. Trans service members already do deploy, proving
repeatedly what matters is their ability to accomplish the mission,
not gender identity."
The Obama administration, which ended the transgender ban in 2016,
allowed currently serving transgender personnel to immediately begin
serving openly but set July 1, 2017, as the start of new enlistments
by openly transgender people.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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