Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stalled Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military. He announced that transgender members of the armed forces would continue to be allowed to serve until a proper study has completed.
In a Tuesday evening statement, Secretary Mattis said that he would establish a panel of experts within the Pentagon and the Homeland Security Department who would be given the task to “provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president’s direction.”
President Trump announced through a series of tweets that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military. Some say that the Twitter messages took the Pentagon by surprise. Last week Trump signed the directive that would keep transgender people from service, but also gave Mattis broad discretion in determining the fate of those already serving.
Secretary Mattis may go even further based on his Tuesday statement. “Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of homeland security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction,” Mr. Mattis said. “In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.” Mattis also noted that he will issue “interim guidance to the force concerning the president’s direction, including any necessary interim adjustments to procedures, to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued.”
This statement from Mattis came after more than 140 House Democrats sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reconsider his transgender ban.
“Implicitly, your ban denies the value of transgender service members, and it questions the professionalism of those who serve beside them. Our Armed Forces have grown more equal and more inclusive over time, often in the face of strident opposition,” the letter said. “In 1948, when President Truman moved to racially integrate the military, voices were raised in protest. They were raised again in 2010, when Congress at last repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ At every turn, those voices have been proven wrong.”
Military officials have confessed that they do not see how they can go back on allowing transgender people to serve without opening themselves up to lawsuits. The president’s ban has already prompted lawsuits from advocates of transgender rights.
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Credit: New York Times