The White House is expected to give the Defense Department the authority to bar transgender people from enlisting in the U.S. military in the coming days, one month after President Donald Trump announced the ban on Twitter, according to multiple reports.
The White House memo would also give Defense Secretary James Mattis discretion over whether transgender troops can stay in the military, based on a service member’s ability to deploy, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Journal was the first to report on the memo Wednesday night.
The guidelines would give Mattis six months to enforce the ban, The New York Times reported. An unidentified source told the newspaper that the contents of the memo were not finalized as of Wednesday night.
In a statement obtained by CNN, Pentagon officials said they had yet to receive formal guidance from the White House on how Trump’s announced ban would work.
"The (Defense) Department continues to focus on our mission of defending our nation and ongoing operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect," the statement said.
Gay and lesbian service members have been able to openly serve in the military since 2011, according to NPR. Current Department of Defense policy allows for transgender people to serve openly and says individuals “can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals.”
Trump announced the ban in a series of tweets last month.
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” Trump wrote on July 26. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
The announcement came as a surprise to military leaders and politicians. In a letter to top military officials, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, wrote that there would 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.”
Estimates on the number of transgender troops in the military vary, although a 2016 report from the Rand Corp. estimated that as many as 6,300 transgender service members are on active duty.
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