Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Tuesday that he will retain the current policy that allows transgender members of the military to continue to serve while his department figures out how to implement President Trump’s order to ban them from service.
“In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place,” Mattis said in a statement Tuesday evening.
The President ordered the Department of Defense on August 25 to reverse the decision made in 2016 under the Obama administration to allow transgender people to serve in the military, giving the Pentagon six months to come up with a plan for those who are currently serving. Trump had announced via Twitter on July 26 that he would no longer allow transgender soldiers to serve in the military, arguing that the organization “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Mattis explained that he is following the President’s directive for an implementation plan, and will establish a panel of experts from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, who will assess the situation and come up with recommendations, but that current policy will continue to remain in place during this assessment “The panel will assemble and thoroughly analyze all pertinent data, quantifiable and non-quantifiable,” he explained. After the panel has provided its recommendations, he said, he will advise the President on implementing this initiative.