Trump makes moves to activate transgender military ban
President Trump's twitter feed on a mobile phone, Aug. 3. On Friday, he issued guidelines to Defense Secretary Mattis to put the transgender military ban into practice. | J. David Ake / AP

As the chaos of Hurricane Harvey approached the Texas coastline, the Trump administration quickly and quietly moved to put the transgender military ban into practice Friday, Aug. 2.

The memo delivered to Secretary of Defense James Mattis instructed the Pentagon to return to the June 2016 policy that prevented the recruitment of transgender people into the armed forces and to stop the use of Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security funds to provide “sex reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel.”

The administration has given Mattis the authority to decide whether to retain existing transgender recruits as well as a six-month timeline to lay out a plan to implement Trump’s policy.

Placing blame on the Obama administration, Trump’s memo said his predecessor in the White House had not thought through whether the policy allowing transgender service members would “hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources.”

This action by Trump was expected after his July 26 tweets expressed his clear intentions regarding active and reserve duty transgender service members.

Anticipating enforcement, five transgender service members filed a lawsuit against the administration Aug. 9, and experts close to the matter expect more legal challenges could delay full implementation of the policy.

Currently, it is estimated between 2,000 and 12,000 active service members are transgender, according to a 2016 study by the Rand Corporation.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders attorney Jenifer Levi, representing the five plaintiffs in the Aug. 9 lawsuit, said in a statement:

“This policy is a shameful slap in the face to people who put their lives on the line everyday to defend our country… We are moving quickly with our plaintiffs to see that a court puts a stop to this latest demonstration of President Trump playing politics with people’s lives.”


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.