White House said to be close on transgender military ban

Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty Images

President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban transgender service members in a tweet last month — with scant details. | Chris Kleponis/Getty Images

The White House is in the “final stage” of writing guidelines for a ban on transgender people serving in the military, although the policy could still change and there is uncertainty about when it will be completed, according to a senior White House official.

The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported Wednesday that the White House had finished its rules and would issue a guidance to the Pentagon in coming days on implementing the ban.

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The Journal reported that the new policy would give Defense Sec. Jim Mattis latitude to kick out existing service members under the new policy. Its sources said he was expected to focus on “deployability” in weighing removal, a term that encompasses the ability to serve in a war zone, participate in exercises and live aboard a ship for long periods.

The senior White House official cautioned that the policy could yet be tweaked, but said the new guidelines for the Pentagon were expected soon. However, the broad outline, including giving Mattis six months to implement the policy, rings true, the senior White House official said.

News that final rules could be coming soon was met with immediate condemnation by opponents of the policy shift.

The American Military Partner Association, a group that represents LGBT military spouses, called the the new proposal a “vicious assault on transgender service members.”

“Despite the overwhelming bipartisan condemnation of his reckless tweets, President Trump is still pushing forward with his vicious assault on transgender service members,” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, the group’s president. “His foolhardy assertion that transgender service members are not able to deploy is simply not rooted in fact. Transgender service members are just as deployable as any other service member.”

Trump announced his intention to ban transgender service members in a tweet last month — with scant details. He made the decision against the advice of his lawyers, who were surprised by the announcement.

Some conservatives have expressed support for the policy, with the administration receiving a number of letters urging the president to implement the policy.

Trump’s decision was made in part to quell a congressional budget fight. A group of conservative Republicans vowed to keep taxpayer money from paying for gender transition and hormone therapies.

http://www.politico.com