Is defense secretary bucking Trump on transgender ban? Probably not

Kristopher Drake
August 31, 2017

Secretary of Defense James Mattis just openly defied President Trump's executive order to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military.

Trump's transgender military ban is another attempt to attack their validity as people and roll back the progress LGBT activists have made over the last several decades. His move buys him time to make decisions on whether to allow transgender individuals to continue serving or how to properly discharge them.

In a statement, Mattis said he would establish a panel of experts from within the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security to "to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president's direction". But on August 23, the White House said it would send guidelines to the Pentagon on implementing the ban and allow for the removal of current transgender soldiers.

It's official: After first announcing that transgender persons would be barred from serving in the military via three tweets last month, President Trump began formal implementation of this change on Friday by issuing a memorandum to the secretaries of defense and homeland security.

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow..."

When asked on Friday how much had been spent on transgender-related medical procedures over the past year, a senior US official referred questions to the Pentagon.

"Our focus must always be on what is best for the military's combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield". Both Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford effectively did so by waiting for Trump's tweet to be translated and lawyered into a proper memorandum.

Mattis has previously expressed that his main concern is military readiness and not political issues. LGBTQ advocates have asserted that Mattis' announcement is not a rebuke of the Trump policy but a pretense before removing transgender service members.

Some outlets have been calling this a "freeze" because now serving transgender soldiers will be allowed to stay in the military until March 23, 2018.

Since then, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as well as many others have condemned the military ban on transgender individuals and have urged Trump to reconsider. But Mattis previously expressed skepticism toward that study's conclusions, according to the Washington Post, indicating he may be interested in research that leads the Pentagon to an alternate conclusion on transgender troops' military impact.

The House has already taken a vote on the issue - before Trump announced his ban - when 24 Republicans helped Democrats block an amendment to prevent the Pentagon from paying for the cost of transgender medical procedures.

The memo also requests the Pentagon to develop an implementation plan for the ban by February 21 2018, to be put in place on March 23, 2018, the reports said.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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