As Donald Trump begins his 17 day vacation at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, the Washington Blade reports that his White House Counsel has approved preliminary “guidance” for booting transgender service members out of the U.S. military.
Approved by Trump, the new policy is expected to be now delivered into the hands of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who has been quiet on the issue with approximately 15,000 trans service members under his command.
After his review, Mattis is expected to order a deliberate implementation by the Pentagon, which could take a period of time.
Though the policy—called “A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out”—has not yet been made public, sources familiar with the planning said it would encourage early retirement, usher out any enlisted personnel after their contract is up, and would fire trans officers up for promotion. Basically, said a source, “the administration wants to get rid of transgender service members as fast as they can.”
No one yet knows what will happen to the service members currently fighting in combat. The new policy does allow trans service members to continue serving but apparently does not offer any protection from harassment or other efforts to get them to quit.
As previously reported, Trump tweeted a major shift in military policy regarding transgender troops on July 26, saying:
“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. 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.”
Since Trump’s tweets on transgender service, multiple leaders in the U.S. military have signaled their opposition.
A statement issued by 56 retired generals and admirals read in part, “This proposed ban, if implemented, 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 well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy.”
And Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, told reporters he plans to continue support the transgender troops under his command despite the Trump tweets.
Eighteen countries allow transgender personnel to serve openly in the military, including Australia, Israel, Britain, Sweden and Canada.