Trump Sends Pentagon Guidance on Transgender Policies



US President Donald Trump [official website] on Friday directed [Presidential Memorandum] the Secretaries of the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security (DHS) [official websites] to continue prior policies banning transgender individuals from military service.

A White House official who briefed reporters about the memo declined to specify whether transgender individuals who are now active in the military could continue to serve based on such criteria.

The presidential memorandum which was signed on Friday, August 25, also bans the Department of Defense from providing medical treatment regimens using its resources for transgender individuals now serving in the military.

The order also halts the use of government funds for any new sex-reassignment surgeries for active personnel.

The president gave defence secretary Jim Mattis authority to decide the matter of openly transgender individuals already serving and said that until the Pentagon chief made that decision "no action may be taken against" them.

Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in June 2016 the ban on transgender troops would be lifted. For transgender service members already serving, the memo directs the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to determine what to do with them based on how their continued service affects military effectiveness, lethality, resources and unit cohesion.

Trump's directive gives the Department of Defense six months to formulate an implementation plan set to go into effect on March 23, 2018.

Trump's Friday directive arrived almost a month after he first announced his administration's transgender policy in a series of three tweets in late July.

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As many as 15,500 transgender individuals are estimated to be now serving in the US military.

Additionally, Lambda Legal and OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network plan to file a lawsuit as soon as Monday on behalf of transgender people now enlisted in the military and those seeking to join as soon.

Shannon Minter, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) legal team, said "This is exactly what [President Trump] said he would do and what our lawsuit challenges-a new ban on military service by openly transgender people".

California Democrat Ro Khanna tweeted: "Our transgender service members deserve honour and respect".

In his directive to Mr Mattis, Mr Trump said he found that his predecessor's transgender policy was flawed.

"Our military is strongest when all people who are fit to serve have the opportunity to do so", Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project director said in a statement.

A White House official added that Mattis' decisions regarding the ban's development and implementation will be based on "military effectiveness", "budgetary concerns" and other pertinent matters.