White House to issue guidance on transgender military ban

Donald Trump

The White House will send guidance to the Pentagon on President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban — including instructions to reject transgender applicants — “in coming days,” The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night, citing unnamed US officials familiar with the matter.

Among the memo’s directions: The military is to stop admitting transgender people; and for current transgender troops, the Pentagon should consider a service member’s ability to deploy when determining whether to expel them, the newspaper reported, citing the officials.

The memo also instructs the Pentagon to stop paying for transgender troops’ medical treatment regimens, the officials told the paper.

It is not clear if the memo is finalized. The Pentagon said in a statement Wednesday night that it “has not received formal guidance from the White House as a follow-up to the Commander-in-Chief’s announcement on military service by transgender personnel.”

“The (Defense) Department continues to focus on our mission of defending our nation and ongoing operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect,” the statement read.

The Pentagon said it would provide an update when the formal guidance is announced.

CNN reached out to the White House for comment Wednesday.

Trump said he would reinstate a ban on transgender troops in a string of tweets July 26, announcing that transgender individuals would not be eligible to “serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

That reversed a policy, initially approved by the Defense Department under President Barack Obama and still under final review, that would have allowed transgender individuals to openly serve in the military.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

That took the Pentagon by surprise. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were not aware of Trump’s intention to tweet the ban on transgender service members, three US defense officials told CNN in June.

Following Trump’s announcement, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told service members there would be “no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidelines.”

However, The Wall Street Journal now reports that the officials said the guidance would give Defense Secretary James Mattis six months to put the new policy into action.

Pelosi: ‘This is NOT how you keep America safe’

Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon last week that he was studying the issue.

“The policy is going to address whether or not transgenders can serve under what conditions, what medical support they require, how much time would they be perhaps non-deployable, leaving others to pick up their share of everything,” he said.

“There’s a host of issues and I’m learning more about this than I ever thought I would, and it’s obviously very complex to include the privacy issues, which we respect,” Mattis said. “I am waiting right now to get the President’s guidance in, and that, I expect, (will) be very soon.”

The American Military Partner Association — a group for families of LGBT service members and veterans — said they condemned the details of the reported guidance.

“(Trump’s) foolhardy assertion that transgender service members are not able to deploy is simply not rooted in fact,” the group’s president, Ashley Broadway-Mack, said in a statement. “Transgender service members are just as deployable as any other service member. These brave men and women are already risking their lives for this country around the world.

“They have earned their right to appropriate medical care, and President Trump’s attempt to rip that away is beyond unconscionable.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, responded to The Wall Street Journal’s report with a tweet Wednesday night: “This is NOT how you keep America safe. Period. #ProtectTransTroops.”

Also on Wednesday, CNN first reported that MTV was reaching out to transgender military members, inviting them to attend Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, according to a US defense official.