WASHINGTON — President Trump signed a long-awaited directive on Friday that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military but gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion in determining whether those already in the armed forces can continue to serve.
Mr. Mattis’s decisions will be based on several criteria, including military effectiveness and budgetary concerns, a senior White House official said in briefing reporters.
Left unclear was how many of the thousands of transgender service personnel estimated to be in the military might keep serving. By putting the onus on Mr. Mattis, the president appeared to open the door to allowing at least some transgender service members to remain in the military.
Trump Planning to Authorize Pentagon to Enact Ban on Transgender Troops
WASHINGTON — President Trump is preparing to give the Defense Department formal authority to expel transgender people from the military in an upcoming order, barring the Pentagon from recruiting transgender troops and cutting off payment for sexual reassignment surgery and other medical treatments for those already serving.
A White House memo that is expected to be sent to the Pentagon in coming days gives Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, six months to enforce the transgender ban that Mr. Trump announced abruptly last month in a series of tweets. The directive was confirmed Wednesday by a person familiar with its contents but who was not authorized to discuss its details and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The authority has not yet been finalized. Once it is approved, it would allow Mr. Mattis to force out transgender service members by setting a legal standard of whether they would be able to deploy to war zones or for other lengthy military missions.
The president’s order-by-social media caught senior military officials by surprise and short-circuited the customary interagency policy process that attends such sweeping decisions. At the time, as senior military officials scrambled to determine how to carry out the order, White House officials said they would work with the Pentagon to devise a policy to fit Mr. Trump’s tweets.