The White House is close to issuing guidance on Donald Trump’s ban on transgender service members, according to The Wall Street Journal. A two-and-a-half page memo is being prepared for the Pentagon that will give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to develop an implementation policy.
It will be somewhat different from the total ban Trump tweeted out on July 26: Transgender service members who are already on active duty will continue to be able to serve. They will be vetted for “deployability”—the ability to engage in military exercises, serve on a ship for extended periods, and operate in a war zone.
The Armed Forces will stop funding transition-related medical treatment, however. In addition, enlistment contracts not be renewed and recruitment of new personnel will be halted.
As recently as last week Secretary Mattis indicated the ban wasn’t a done deal. At an August 14 press conference, Mattis reiterated “We have received no direction that would indicate any harm to anybody right now.”
“I’m going to wait, again, until I get the direction from the White House,” he added. “And then we will study it and come up with what the policy should be.”
Several lawsuits have already been filed against the ban, which could cost as much as $960 million to implement and maintain. Today, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund condemned the revised ban reportedly being implemented.
“It is clear that the relatively minor medical needs of most transgender personnel are no more burdensome than many other medical conditions permitted in deployable areas,” said TLDEF director Jillian Weiss. “Transgender people have been and will continue to be loyal and effective service members protecting our country. The question isn’t whether to have trans service members. The question is whether we treat them fairly, and with dignity.”
Weiss called on the President to reverse the “dehumanizing decision” immediately.
The Obama administration announced plans to welcome trans service members in July 2016, setting a one-year deadline for a policy on implementation. But as that deadline drew closer, Mattis asked for an six-month extension to study how accepting transgender service members would affect “the readiness and lethality of the force.”
A senior White House official confirmed to the Los Angeles Blade that Mike Pence has been the driving force behind the ban, working in conjunction with anti-LGBT activist Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Progressives have been clamoring for Donald Trump to resign or be impeached since his inauguration, but a Pence administration might be even worse for the LGBT community: As governor of Indiana, Pence displayed a history of homophobia—including signing a “religious freedom” act that allowed businesses to deny services to LGBT people.
In his 2000 campaign, Pence suggested money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program would be better spent on organizations “which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”