The White House is reportedly getting ready to issue guidelines for President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban despite widespread pushback.
The guidance is expected to come out in the coming days and the Pentagon will have six months to enact the ban, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Wednesday night.
The guidelines, which the Journal said will give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion to discharge transgender service members based on their “deployability” — their ability to serve in war zones and participate in training — also orders the Pentagon to stop paying for medical bills for men and women related to their transgender status and to deny enlistment to transgender people seeking to serve.
To the surprise of his administration and military advisers, Trump announced the pending ban in a series of tweets in July, arguing the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
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....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
This assertion has been widely debunked. A study commissioned just last year by the military found medical costs associated with transgender service members represent a mere fraction of the military’s medical costs and less than a thousandth of 1 percent of the Defense Department’s total annual budget.
Trump’s stance on transgender troops is a marked reversal from that of former President Barack Obama, who initiated the process to end the ban on transgender service members, and he has received pushback from LGBT rights groups, Congress and even from within the military itself.
Following the tweets, the U.S. Coast Guard reaffirmed its support for its transgender members and 56 retired U.S. generals and admirals slammed Trump’s policy, saying it would “cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie.”
As news broke Wednesday the Trump administration was moving forward with the ban, the American Military Partner Association, the country’s largest advocate for LGBT military spouses and their families condemned the ban, calling the president’s decision “beyond unconscionable.”
“Despite the overwhelming bipartisan condemnation of his reckless tweets, President Trump is still pushing forward with his vicious assault on transgender service members,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement. “His foolhardy assertion that transgender service members are not able to deploy is simply not rooted in fact. Transgender service members are just as deployable as any other service member.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and two prominent LGBTQ advocacy organizations have already filed suit against Trump’s decision and at least one more pro-LGBTQ group, OutServe-SLDN has come out saying it also plans to file a federal court challenge.