President Donald Trump on Friday directed the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military, but he appeared to leave open the possibility of allowing some already in uniform to remain.
The directive is in-line with his intentions to ban transgender people from serving, as he earlier announced in July.
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 currently serving in the military.
Trump also directed that the departments of Defense and Homeland Security “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving, based on military effectiveness, lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant,” the White House official said.
While briefing reporters on the memo on Friday evening, The White House official, however, declined to say whether the current transgender troops would be allowed to remain in the military under the new policy guidelines.
The official indicated that the administration will be returning to the military’s pre-2016 policy which had no place for transgender individuals in the armed forces, but stated that Trump was giving the secretaries of defence and homeland security the chance to determine the policy for transgender troops who are currently serving.
The official denied the notion that Trump’s directive was equal to discrimination against transgender individuals, insisting that Trump would not be going back on his 2016 campaign promise to fight for LGBT Americans.
“The President is the President for all Americans, and during last year’s campaign he was the first GOP nominee to talk about LGBTQ issues at the GOP convention, but he also was critical of the Obama administration’s change in that longstanding DOD policy,” the official said.
“He’s going to continue to ensure that the rights of the LGBTQ community, as well as all Americans, is protected,” the official added. “This policy is based on a series of national security considerations.”
The guidance comes a month after Trump said on Twitter that he would reinstate a ban on transgender troops, an announcement that took many in the military’s leadership — including the joint chiefs of staff — by surprise.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” he added.
The White House failed to reveal a timeline for the ban, which has left transgender service members wondering about their future in the military.