Defense Secretary James Mattis at a press conference about readiness against North Korea, Aug. 9. Photo courtesy Department of Defense

Defense Sec. Mattis Says Current Trans Policy Remains in Place Until Panel Makes Recommendations

BY KAREN OCAMB, WASHINGTON BLADE

Despite clear communication from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying they did not need nor welcome a major change in the military's current personnel policy allowing open transgender military service -- last Friday, President Trump issued a directive to study and implement how to end trans service.

In a just released statement, Mattis says, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security and "soon arriving senior civilian leadership of DOD," he is convening a panel of experts "to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president's direction. Panel members will bring mature experience, most notably in combat and deployed operations, and seasoned judgment to this task. The panel will assemble and thoroughly analyze all pertinent data, quantifiable and non-quantifiable. Further information on the panel will be forthcoming."

In the interim, Mattis says, "current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place. I expect to issue interim guidance to the force concerning the president's direction, including any necessary interim adjustments to procedures, to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued."

Here's the full statement from the Pentagon:

Statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Military Service by Transgender Individuals

The Department of Defense has received the Presidential Memorandum, dated August 25, 2017, entitled "Military Service by Transgender Individuals." The department will carry out the president's policy direction, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security. As directed, we will develop a study and implementation plan, which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law. The soon arriving senior civilian leadership of DOD will play an important role in this effort. The implementation plan will address accessions of transgender individuals and transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military. Our focus must always be on what is best for the military's combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield. To that end, I will establish a panel of experts serving within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president's direction. Panel members will bring mature experience, most notably in combat and deployed operations, and seasoned judgment to this task. The panel will assemble and thoroughly analyze all pertinent data, quantifiable and non-quantifiable. Further information on the panel will be forthcoming. Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction. In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place. I expect to issue interim guidance to the force concerning the president's direction, including any necessary interim adjustments to procedures, to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued.

Meanwhile, Chase Strangio from the ACLU, which is suing the Pentagon along with OutServe-SLDN, says discrimination against active duty trans service members is already happening:

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.
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