Secretary Mattis creates panel to analyze president’s guidance.
Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday announced the creation of a panel to recommend how the military should put President Donald Trump’s new transgender military guidance into effect.
But for now, the current policy allowing transgender individuals already in the military to serve will remain in place, Mattis said in the statement.
On Friday, Trump officially advised the military to curb an Obama-era plan that would have allowed transgender individuals to be recruited into the armed forces, and banned the military from using its resources on medical treatment regimens for individuals currently serving. But the specifics of how that advice will become reality are still in flux.
The panel will be comprised of individuals from the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security who will “provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the President’s direction,” the statement said.
Panel members will be tasked with developing a system that “will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law,” according to a statement by Mattis.
In the wake of Mattis’ statement, some media outlets reported that the Defense secretary had halted Trump’s trans military ban. But Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, disputed those reports. The NCLR is among the groups suing the Trump administration over the ban.
“This inaccurate reporting is playing into a patently bogus strategy to make it appear that there is going to be some new ‘study’ that will legitimize what is already a forgone conclusion: the discriminatory banning of military service by transgender people, based on a characteristic that has no bearing on their fitness to serve,” Minter said.
“That appalling decision is not (and cannot possibly be, given its timing) based on any hastily assembled, post hoc ‘study’ that is being cooked up now in a transparent effort to provide a retroactive fig leaf for the President’s bigotry,” he added.
The President’s memo asked DOD and DHS to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints and applicable law.
Members of the senior civilian leadership program at the Pentagon will also contribute to the panel’s effort, Mattis said, but the details of their role are not yet clear.
Mattis added that he expects to issue interim guidance on procedures impacted by the President’s policy.
Once the panel concludes, Mattis will provide his advice to the President on how to implement his policy direction.
Minter called the impending ban “a act of pure animus toward transgender people.”
“The military spent two years carefully reviewing all of the relevant evidence on this issue and concluded that there is no reason to exclude transgender people from military service,” Minter said. “The cost of inclusion is literally negligible, and there is no evidence that permitting open service will have any negative impact on military readiness. The notion that there is any good faith ‘study’ being conducted is a blatant pretext for unmitigated, vicious, baseless discrimination.”