U.S. President Donald Trump has authorized his secretaries of defense and homeland security to implement new policies that seek to ban most transgender people from serving in the armed forces and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Trump said in a memorandum that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has concluded that transgender people who have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria should be disqualified from military service, except under limited circumstances. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who controls the Coast Guard, agrees with the assessment.
As a result, Mattis has established new policies which will affect transgender people who may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery. The policy is based on an “extensive study” by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, according to the White House.
Trump, who announced the news on late Friday evening, said he was rescinding his previous memo in which he ordered the armed forces and the U.S. Coast Guard to maintain old rules to block transgender people from serving. Instead, Trump said, Mattis and Nielsen will be allowed to implement their policies.
The president’s previous order, which was issued in August, was facing legal challenges. Several federal judges issued preliminary injunctions over the past few months to stop the ban from taking effect while the cases were being considered.
“This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards – including those regarding the use of medical drugs – equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Trump, who voiced his support for transgender people during the presidential campaign, took many by surprise when he announced his plans for a ban in July. “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,” he said on Twitter.