Nearly a month after President Trump woke up on a Wednesday morning and announced via Twitter that he was instituting a ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military, the Wall Street Journal reports the White House is expected to make good on Trump’s promise by sending a formal policy memo to the Pentagon outlining the terms of the ban in a matter of days. The two-and-a-half page memo gives Defense Secretary Mattis six months to reestablish the ban on transgender troops that was abolished during the Obama administration in 2016. The Obama policy required open enrollment of transgender troops by July 1, 2017 and provided treatment for the condition medically known as gender dysphoria.
Here are the broad outlines of the Trump policy via the Journal:
Mr. Mattis under the new policy is expected to consider “deployability”—the ability to serve in a war zone, participate in exercises or live for months on a ship—as the primary legal means to decide whether to separate service members from the military, the officials said… The White House memo also directs the Pentagon to deny admittance to transgender individuals and to stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those currently serving, according to U.S. officials familiar with the document.
“Transgender people are just as deployable as other service members,” said Sue Fulton, the former president of Sparta, a LGBTQ military organization told the Journal. “Other service members may undergo procedures when they are at home base, just as other service members schedule shoulder surgery or gall bladder surgery.”
The move is largely backed by conservative members of Congress, although some Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, have advocated for letting transgender troops serve openly. The GOP lawmakers’ line for why they oppose transgender troops is that it is an unbearable expense on the Pentagon. “The Rand report concluded that the cost of treating transgender service members would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year,” according to the WSJ. “Total military health-care expenditures were $6.27 billion in 2014.” The exact number of transgender individuals serving in the military isn’t altogether clear with estimates ranging from a thousand to as many as 11,000.