White House to set rules for military transgender ban

WASHINGTON • The White House is expected to tell the Pentagon in coming days how to implement a ban on transgender people in the military, according to a memo that says the Defence Secretary may decide whether to remove service members based on their ability to deploy, a United States official said.

The 21/2-page White House document gives Defence Secretary James Mattis six months to fully implement the ban, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal which was later confirmed by the official. It also directs the Defence Department to deny admittance to transgender individuals and to stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those currently serving, the Journal reported, citing US officials.

Mr Mattis is expected to consider "deployability" - meaning the ability to serve in a war zone, participate in exercises or live for months on a ship - as the main legal reason to decide whether to separate service members from the military, the Journal reported.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter on July 26 that the US government "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity" in the military, a reversal of Pentagon policy.

The surprise announcement, citing healthcare costs and unit disruption, appealed to some in Mr Trump's conservative political base but created uncertainty for thousands of transgender service members, many of whom came out after the Pentagon said last year it would allow transgender people to serve openly.

Five transgender members of the US military, including Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, sued Mr Trump earlier this month, saying that the ban was made without consulting senior military commanders. It named as defendants Mr Trump, Mr Mattis and other military leaders, including Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Joseph Dunford.

Mr Dunford said in a memo a day after Mr Trump's tweets that there would be no change in policy until Mr Mattis received an official order from the President.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2017, with the headline 'White House to set rules for military transgender ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe