Two days after a series of reports suggested the White House would issue guidelines for its proposed transgender military ban, President Donald Trump officially signed an order doing just that on Friday. According to ABC News, the president signed a memo “that formally directs the Pentagon to ban transgender individuals from openly serving in the U.S. military” by March 23, 2018, when the aforementioned ban will go into full effect. The full memo has been released to various news outlets, though despite its breadth, much of the ban’s heavy lifting remains the sole responsibility of the Defense Department.
“In my judgment,” reads the memo, “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, 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.”
Per the New York Times‘ reading of the memo, Trump’s order gives Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis “wide discretion in determining whether transgender personnel who are already in the armed forces can continue to serve.” A White House official added that Mattis’ decisions regarding the ban’s development and implementation will be based on “military effectiveness,” “budgetary concerns” and other pertinent matters. As for the estimated 2,000 to 11,000 active duty and reserve service members who identify as transgender, however, the memo doesn’t suggest how the ban will affect their military status.
You can read the full text of Trump’s order below.