The Trump administration has crafted guidance on the implementation of the ban on military service by transgender people.
The guidance was approved by the White House counsel’s office Friday night and is expected to be delivered to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Washington Blade reports. After he reviews it, Mattis will likely order a gradual implementation.
“Though the policy — called ‘A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out’ — has not yet been made public, sources familiar with the planning said it would encourage early retirement, usher out any enlisted personnel after their contract is up, and would fire trans officers up for promotion,” the Blade reports. “Basically, said a source, ‘the administration wants to get rid of transgender service members as fast as they can.’”
What will happen to those currently serving in combat is unclear, according to the paper. For those continuing to serve, there are apparently no protections against harassment or pressures to quit.
OutServe-SLDN and Lambda Legal are preparing to challenge the ban in court. Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, issued this statement to the Blade:
The President’s order to remove transgender service members from the United States armed forces is nothing less than a purge. He is implementing this purge based on bigotry, motivated by agents of an ideology that has no concern for the national defense, and in blatant disregard of the experience of career officers who spent more than a year developing and implementing the current policy.
It is inconceivable that a man with a demonstrated incompetence in managing the small staff of the White House should have any credibility when it comes to making sound personnel decisions that will effect a fighting force of more than 1.8 million men and women.
We recognize this purge for what it is — a discriminatory attack on the people who have volunteered their lives for the defense of the country. It is arbitrary and capricious, a callous and questionable exercise of constitutional authority which is beneath the dignity of a Commander-in-Chief.
We condemn the actions of the White House in initiating this purge. We condemn the disregard that the President has shown to transgender men and women who wear the uniform. We condemn the intent of any person who would make it the mission of United States military to discriminate against the very citizens they are charged to defend. And we condemn the indifference of any elected official who does not now stand up for both military personnel and the LGBT community by opposing this purge.
OutServe-SLDN with our partner Lambda Legal will be immediately filing a lawsuit in federal court to challenge this action.
And Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, issued this statement via email:
President Trump has now turned a Twitter tirade into a massive purge of trained and qualified service members. More than 15,000 transgender service members have already demonstrated that they can do the job. But if not stopped, the President will end their careers serving the country they love because of who they are.
Moreover, the decision to enact this purge slowly, by refusing reenlistment, only confirms that it has no basis in military readiness. If service members are meeting and exceeding their challenges, and allowed to complete their current terms of service, why deny reenlistment?
It’s no wonder that Senators and Representatives from both parties have joined former military leaders and the majority of Americans in supporting transgender troops. We urge Congress to take immediate action to stop this reckless and unconstitutional purge.
This week 56 retired generals and admirals wrote an open letter opposing the ban, and the commandant of the Coast Guard voiced support for his services trans members and said he was assembling a legal team to assist them.
Then Friday, 53 Democrats in the U.S. House sent a letter to Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urging them not to comply with the ban, which the legislators called unconstitutional.
“As members of Congress with an abiding interest in our nation’s military and its policies towards the LGBTQ community, we write to not only express our strong opposition to President Trump’s recent tweets seeking to ban transgender individuals from the military, but to remind you not to comply with any unconstitutional directive which may ultimately be issued,” the letter reads in part. Read the full letter here.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.