Draft policy on military trans ban looks as bad as Trump’s tweets

A White House memo says it will be implemented over six months.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The White House is finalizing a two-and-a-half page memo this week that will outline implementation of a ban on transgender military service, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal Wednesday evening.

Here are the aspects of the proposed plan:

  • Transgender people will continue to be denied admittance to the military.
  • The military will stop spending on medical treatment regiments for transgender people who are currently serving.
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis will determine whether to let transgender military personnel who are already serving keep their jobs based on their “deployability” to a warzone.
  • Mattis has six months to implement the ban as directed.

News of the memo is in line with Mattis’ comments last week, in which he claimed there was still no official guidance from the President on the matter. However, it also appears to contradict his claim that the military will continue to study the issue before cementing any lasting measures.

When the memo is finally delivered to the Pentagon, it will be the first official guidance since President Trump suddenly announced the ban on Twitter nearly one month ago. Though he claimed at the time that he’d spoken with the generals before announcing it, top military brass were caught completely off guard. Indeed, Trump’s own lawyers had warned against the decision, but he has continued to defend it as “a great favor” to the military.


Despite claims by Trump and other proponents of the ban, barring transgender troops from serving would cost as much as 100 times more than the negligible costs of their medical needs. Likewise, claims about how transition-related medical needs could impact deployability are completely imagined.

Severing the health care of active transgender personnel could have devastating consequences. If servicemembers cannot access the basic care they were contractually promised, it could effectively become a purge wherein trans troops are squeezed out over time. There would likewise be a legal backlash; already, a preemptive lawsuit has already been filed challenging the ban, whenever it’s finalized.

It remains unclear from the Journal’s report whether the ban would extend to transgender family members of military personnel, whose transition-related health needs are also currently covered.

In his speech on military strategy in Afghanistan earlier this week, Trump claimed, “When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate.” Many pointed out that his ban on trans military service directly contradicts these values.