The presidential memo, which has been delivered to the Pentagon, also tasks Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with determining whether to remove already enlisted transgender individuals from service, and it bars the military from funding gender confirmation surgery.
“In my judgment, the previous Administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the Departments’ longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources, and there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year’s policy change would not have those negative effects,” the presidential memorandum reads.
Trump’s signature came as Hurricane Harvey, now a Category 4 storm, barreled toward Texas.
Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, issued a brief statement Friday, saying the department had received the White House guidance and that “more information will be forthcoming.”
“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,” he wrote July 26. “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.”
In 2016, the Pentagon lifted a longtime ban on transgender service members. At the time, then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, “Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission.”
Trump has given Mattis until Jan. 1 to determine whether active transgender military servicemen and women can continue to serve.
LGBTQ advocacy group OutServe-SLDN was quick to condemn Trump’s decision and promised to take the administration to court.
“The President’s order to remove transgender service members from the United States armed forces and deny them healthcare is nothing less than a purge,” OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn said in a statement. “He is implementing this purge based on bigotry, motivated by agents of an ideology that has no concern for the national defense, and in blatant disregard of the experience of career officers who spent more than a year developing and implementing the current policy.
“It is inconceivable that a man with a demonstrated incompetence in managing the small staff of the White House should have any credibility when it comes to making sound personnel decisions that will effect a fighting force of more than 1.8 million men and women.”
In his weekly address Friday, Trump praised active military service members and veterans.
“Every person who puts on the uniform makes our nation proud,” he said. “They all come from across our land. They represent every race, ethnicity and creed. But they all pledge the same oath, fight for the same cause and operate as one team — with one shared sense of purpose. They love their families. They cherish their freedom. They salute our flag. And, above all, they believe in America.”