Mattis says the Pentagon won't change its policy of allowing transgender people to serve in the US military until he receives recommendations from a panel that is supposed to report back on the impact of a ban.
The US President signed a memo last week reversing the decision made in 2016 under the Obama administration to allow transgender people to serve in the military, giving the Pentagon six months to come up with a plan for those who are now serving. In June 2016, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter of the Obama administration lifted the ban based on the findings of a RAND Corporation study, according to The New York Times.
What the President is essentially asking the DOD to do is investigate how effective trans service people are, what the outcomes might be if they are removed from active duty and the overall cost to the government for this ban.
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The ban would take effect next year.
Mattis says he's delaying implementation of the order until military experts weigh in on the issue since most experts agree that the ban would be a bad idea. Mattis has said that he's waiting for the result of a study on trans service members before he makes his final decision regarding whether they may be fit to serve or not.
There are at least three lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the president's ban.
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No one from the Pentagon or Capitol Hill had received any orders or bills regarding such a ban at that time and were blindsided.
Mattis says he'll convene the panel from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, with the goal of promoting "military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion" - while also following legal and budgetary constraints.
That doesn't mean the confusion is over, as reports have come out that Mattis has enacted a freeze on the policy so that transgender soldiers can continue to serve pending a "study by experts."
"Military service is a privilege, not a right", said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Missouri Republican who lobbied the White House to stop paying for transgender-related medical expenses before Trump announced the ban.
Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.
But, as part of that implementation plan, officials need to determine how to address transgender troops now serving in the military.
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