Openly transgender U.S. military personnel could soon be assessed for “deployability” before being dismissed, according to a memo due to be sent to the Pentagon in the coming days. The decision by President Trump to push forward with his controversial plan has been labelled “discriminatory and unpatriotic” by America’s largest civil rights organization.
First reported by the Wall Street Journal, and subsequently confirmed by Reuters, the memo will direct Defense Secretary James Mattis to ban all new transgender applications, stop spending on medical treatment for active-duty personnel, and remove transgender service members from duty if he considers them unfit for deployment — meaning preventing them from serving in a war zone, participating in exercises, or living for months on a ship.
The memo comes after Trump surprised everyone — including the Joint Chiefs — on July 26 by announcing on Twitter that the government would no longer “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Trump cited healthcare costs and unit disruption as the reasons behind his decision.
As of Wednesday night, the Pentagon said it had not received any new policy order regarding transgender troops. An estimated 15,500 transgender Americans currently serve in the military – either on active duty or in the reserves.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said the decision to push ahead with the plan “despite overwhelming opposition” was a “discriminatory and unpatriotic attack on trans troops.”
On Aug. 9, five serving military service members filed a lawsuit against Trump saying “We can defend transgender people in the face of this administration.” The five were among thousands of military personnel who came out in July 2016 when the ban was lifted.
The politically charged issue is likely to grab more attention this weekend as CNN reports that MTV is seeking to bring-active duty transgender service members to the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday. The Department of Defense says it is “reviewing the parameters of the request.”