Democrats prepare to fight Trump's transgender military ban

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Brad Matheney helps a man in a wheelchair navigate a flooded street in Galveston Texas on Saturday
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP Getty Images Brad Matheney helps a man in a wheelchair navigate a flooded street in Galveston Texas on Saturday
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31 August, 2017

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has announced that he's still allowing trans people to serve in the military, despite the White House's orders directing the Department of Defense to ban trans people.

"Trump also directed the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to determine how to address transgender individuals now serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant", CNN reported citing a White House official.

The BBC said the measure could affect between 4,000 and 10,000 active-duty and reserve service members.

In a statement, Mattis said he would establish a panel of experts from within the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security to "to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president's direction".

He says, "Panel members will bring mature experience, most notably in combat and deployed operations, and seasoned judgment to this task".

While transgender citizens can no longer sign up to join the military, the White House left the decision with Mattis of whether to allow those already serving to continue serving.

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President Donald Trump late last week directed the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military, but he gave Mattis the authority to decide about those people already serving. The services had to provide medical and training plans, and arrange full implementation by July 1, 2017.

Mattis' move buys time for the Pentagon to determine how and if it will allow thousands of transgender troops to continue to serve, whether they will receive medical treatment, or how they will be discharged.

In his tweet, Trump said the reason behind the ban was due to the military's inability to cover the medical expenses of transgender soldiers, but banning them could cost the USA $960 million, according to NBC News. Transgender service members have also filed suit in federal court to challenge the directive.

Gillibrand is expected to lead the Democratic effort on transgender service during Senate debate, but Democrats are considering several different legislative options to try to add to the defense bill, Senate aides and advocates working with lawmakers to draft a response told CNN. 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.

Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.

Another lawsuit was also filed Monday in Seattle by Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN and Gender Justice League. Under Trump's directives, the transgender military ban and the official halt on gender confirmation surgery funding, wouldn't go into effect on March 23, 2018 anyway.


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