Jim Mattis: Transgender troops to continue serving pending study

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPentagon hasn't finalized Afghanistan troop numbers Transgender service members walk carpet at VMAs Battle begins over implementing Trump's transgender ban MORE on Wednesday sought to downplay President Trump's earlier assertion that seemed to rule out a diplomatic solution to North Korea's ongoing missile tests.

"The Trump administration has provided no evidence that this pronouncement was based on an analysis of the actual cost and disruption allegedly caused by allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly", ACLU lawyers said.

On Aug. 29, Mattis disclosed that transgender troops would continue serving in the US military pending the results of a study on their "deployability".

Trump's war on the transgender community continues.

The defense secretary's statement yesterday said he 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".

The US official added that for now, the current policy in respect to transgenders serving in the military remains in effect.

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The original ban on transgender troops was lifted a year ago under former President Barack Obama but Trump reinstated it Friday, citing cost and disruption.

Replacing transgender service members would cost the USA 100 times more than the annual cost of providing them transition-related care. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming...victory and can not be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.

"It's not a surprise that there is considerable bipartisan concern about what's going on because the White House admitted that the original tweets were for an invalidly political objective, which is why you had eight senators from the Republican Party speak out", said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, which conducts research on sexual minorities in the military. That's one reason it benefits the military to keep transgender individuals who have gone through full military training and are already serving in the US Armed Forces.

The president issued that notification Friday night. It was assailed by advocates for transgender troops who called it discriminatory, and the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against it. Two lawsuits have already been filed, challenging Trump's ban. But Mattis previously expressed skepticism toward that study's conclusions, according to the Washington Post, indicating he may be interested in research that leads the Pentagon to an alternate conclusion on transgender troops' military impact.

The ban would take effect next year.

However, others are pointing out that the defense secretary's memo announcing an experts panel on transgender troops is a move that basically follows Trump's order. And that's why Mattis ordered his study: to determine if new transgender recruits are worth that investment. In July, Trump tweeted his ban before Mattis was able to complete a study, according to NPR.

  • Sonia Alvarado