President Trump signed a presidential memo Friday night ordering the Defense Department to stop accepting transgender people for military service.
The memo outlines Mr. Trump’s announcement on Twitter last month that he would impose a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, and officially requests the Pentagon to begin carrying out the ban.
“In my judgment, the previous administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the Departments’ longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources,” Mr. Trump wrote, “and there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year’s policy change would not have those negative effects.”
It instructs Defense Secretary James Mattis to examine how to handle transgender people who are currently serving in the armed forces, believed to number more than 2,000.
The memorandum also orders the Pentagon to stop paying for gender reassignment surgeries, unless such cases are already in progress.
Civil rights groups blasted the president’s move.
“This policy is a shameful slap in the face to people who put their lives on the line everyday to defend our country,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director. “Our military is strongest when all people who are fit to serve have the opportunity to do so. This unprecedented policy amounts to a purge of qualified, contributing troops, and will serve only to undermine unit cohesion and weaken military readiness. We are moving quickly with our plaintiffs to see that a court puts a stop to this latest demonstration of President Trump playing politics with people’s lives.”