President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military on Friday to reject openly transgender people as new recruits but authorized Defense Secretary James Mattis to decide how to handle transgender personnel already serving in the armed forces.
Trump also ordered the military to stop paying for gender-reassignment surgical procedures on March 23 except to protect the health of someone who has already begun the process of reassigning sex, according to a senior White House official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
The Defense Department will have six months to consider how to handle openly transgender people currently serving in the military under a memorandum that Trump signed on Friday, the official said. The memorandum directs the department to consider unit cohesion, applicable law and resources in making the determination, the official said.
Trump announced July 26 he would ban transgender people from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. military, reversing President Barack Obama’s policy to let them serve openly and drawing immediate criticism from gay-rights groups, many Democratic lawmakers and even some conservative Republicans..
That announcement, in a series of early morning tweets, caught Pentagon officials and key members of Congress off-guard, and the Pentagon said it wouldn’t change its policies until it received a formal order from the president.
“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” the office of Joint Chiefs Chairman…
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