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Trump signs memo directing Pentagon to implement transgender ban

The memo detailed the ban on transgender individuals that Trump announced via Twitter last month.

26 August 2017, 3:06pm
Last updated on 26 August 2017, 3:14pm
People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City. (Photo: Reuters)
People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City. (Photo: Reuters)
US President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Friday that directs the US military not to accept transgender men and women as recruits and halts the use of government funds for gender reassignment surgeries for active personnel unless the process is already underway.

The memo, released by the White House, laid out in more detail a ban on transgender individuals serving the US armed forces that Trump announced via Twitter last month.

The order requires Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to determine how to handle transgender individuals currently serving in the military using criteria including “military effectiveness and lethality,” budget constraints and law.

A White House official who briefed reporters about the memo declined to specify whether transgender service men and women who are currently active in the military could continue to serve based on such criteria.

The official said Trump decided the Obama administration had not identified a sufficient basis for changing what was then long-standing policy on transgender troops.

Trump’s decision appealed to some in his conservative political base while creating uncertainty for thousands of transgender service members, many of whom came out after the Pentagon said in 2016 it would allow transgender people to serve openly.

The change drew swift criticism from advocates of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

"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," said Jennifer Levi, an official at the gay rights group GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders) in a statement.

Asked how the policy squared with Trump's pledge to stand up for gay rights, the White House official said the president would ensure that such rights were protected but had been critical previously of the transgender changes under the Obama administration.