President Donald Trump on Friday formally ordered the Department of Defense to reverse a 2016 order allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the military.
The formal policy document comes a month after Trump surprised the Pentagon when he announced in a series of July 26 tweets that he would reverse the Obama-era policy change. The Pentagon pondered how to respond, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis said he was waiting to hear from the White House exactly how he should proceed.
Friday’s iteration offered few clues for those individuals whose gender identity does not match their gender at birth. In fact, the scope of Trump’s decision on existing transgender service members was not immediately clear even with the formal guidance.
A White House official announced the signed directive on a call with reporters Friday evening. Under the new policy, the military will be indefinitely barred from accepting new transgender troops, and new trans-related medical treatments will be blocked.
“The memo that was signed today adopts a policy directing [the Department of Defense] and [Department of Homeland Security] to return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals prior to June 2016,” said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The 2016 policy, issued by then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, was to have allowed transgender people to serve openly starting earlier this year, though that timeline was later pushed to Jan 1, 2018, to allow for additional study of the issue. But now that study will no longer be needed.
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