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General James Mattis Allows Transgender Troops to Continue Serving
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U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. Photo courtesy of Politico.

Summary: Defense Secretary James Mattis will allow currently serving transgender troops to remain in the military. 

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that transgender individuals will be allowed to continue serving in the U.S. military. The news came weeks after President Donald Trump tweeted that transgender troops would be banned from the armed forces.


According to USA Today, Mattis is allowing currently serving transgender troops to stay in the military until he receives the results of a study. His move buys him time to make decisions on whether to allow transgender individuals to continue serving or how to properly discharge them.

“Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction,” Mattis said. “In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.”

On July 26, President Trump tweeted that transgender people were banned from the military, and his tweet caught many by surprise. President Barack Obama’s administration allowed them to openly serve and receive medical care, but Trump tweeted that they were disruptive.

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“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. 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,” Trump tweeted.

Mattis has previously expressed that his main concern is military readiness and not political issues. Before Trump made his July announcement, Mattis had said that he wanted more time to study the effects of transgender servicemen in the armed forces.

On Friday night, Trump issued guidelines on the ban of transgender troops. New transgender troops will not be allowed to enlist, but the Friday guidelines gave Mattis the discretion to study the issue and determine how to implement Trump’s decision.

Trump’s ban has been met with ire from transgender advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union, who have stated that the ban is discriminatory. Two lawsuits have already been filed, challenging Trump’s ban.

Last year, the non-partisan research company, Rand Corporation, studied transgender troops in the military and found that there were thousands of transgender individuals serving. The group found that transgender troops cost $8 million per year in medical care and that they had no negative effects on military readiness.

Trump signed a memo on Friday that would implement his ban, which would take effect on March 23, 2018.

Gay and lesbian troops were allowed to openly serve in 2011, and transgender individuals were granted the same right in 2016, under former Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Under Carter, the military was given a July 1, 2017, deadline to set an official policy on transgender recruits, and in June, Mattis had asked for a deadline extension to study the matter. In July, Trump tweeted his ban before Mattis was able to complete a study, according to NPR.

What do you think of transgender service people in the military? Let us know in the comments below.


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