Published: Sun, March 25, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Trump scraps blanket transgender military ban, major restrictions remain

Trump scraps blanket transgender military ban, major restrictions remain

President Donald Trump did it again, dropping another controversial decision on Friday night when the news cycle dies down.

Although Trump's controversial policy sparked a lot of backlashes past year from different groups and United States defence chiefs yet, the secretary of defence released late Friday night said trans people are "disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances".

Trump's initial memo had to be modified after federal courts ruled against the ban in four separate cases, saying it violated the right to equal protection under the US Constitution.

The new order follows a Pentagon policy review initiated by July tweets by Trump, in which he suggested that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the US military "in any capacity".

A statement issued from the White House late Friday said the President has rescinded his previous policy on transgender service in the military and will allow Mattis to implement a new policy, but did no elaborate on the possible exceptions.

"There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops", Chad Griffin, the Human Rights Council president, said in a statement on Friday.

In a memo to the president, dated February 22, Mattis cited "substantial risks" about military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity. "It's a gross mischaracterization of transgender people, and it's bad for our military".

The policy adopts recommendations that Trump received last month from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

More news: Troopers to patrol at Florida school where massacre happened

Despite objections from rights groups, as well as top military personnel and politicians on both sides of the aisle, Trump ordered the policy, claiming it was "developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans".

Trump's efforts have faced a number of serious setbacks, including multiple lawsuits arguing that banning a group of people from the military on the basis of their gender identity is unconstitutional. The White House said Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen agreed with the policy.

It is possible that the ban will never actually be put in place: while the Trump administration is framing the order as "a new policy developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders", it is substantively the same as the previous Trump policy, which is now facing multiple lawsuits on constitutional grounds.

The policy announcement outraged advocates for transgender troops, and the advocates vowed to fight the limits in court.

It added: "What the White House released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy, for the sole objective of carrying out President Trump's reckless and unconstitutional ban".

The number of transgender troops among America's approximately 1.3 million active duty service members is fairly small, with estimates topping out at 15,000. The study concluded that allowing transgender troops to serve would have "minimal impact on readiness and health care costs". Accordingly, transgender troops now serving may continue to do so, however, the Pentagon has the option to "require them to serve according to the gender at birth".

But rather than addressing that narrow issue, Trump opted to upend the entire policy on transgender service members.

Like this: