President Donald Trump tweeted on July 26 that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the United States military. Tweets alone don't change policy, so some in the media assumed the president was just blowing smoke.
Today, it's clear that Trump meant what he said and intends to carry it out. A White House memo was sent to the Pentagon on Wednesday directing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to deny admittance to transgender individuals, and to stop paying for medical treatment regimens for currently enlisted transgender people.
The White House is expected to send additional guidance to the Pentagon in coming days to detail how to implement the ban. Mattis will have six months to get all of this done.
How did we get here?
Here are Trump's tweets, when he first made his intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military:
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501073758.0
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501074279.0
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1501074501.0
Former president Barack Obama lifted the ban on open transgender military service in 2016, and also allowed the military to provide medical care for gender dysphoria. Diagnosed gender dysphoria is considered by some insurers to be a condition requiring transition therapy and reassignment surgery.
So are all transgender people getting kicked out of the military?
Not quite. At least, not for right now. The White House memo gives Mattis and the Pentagon the discretion to consider an individual's deployability when deciding whether or not to separate them from service.
Deployability is defined as the ability to serve in a war zone, participate in exercises or live on a ship for months at a time, and will be the legal basis used to make determinations on transgender individual's fitness for military service.
Stay tuned. More details on the implementation of this ban should come out in the coming days, and this latest step is surely going to be met with significant liberal opposition.