The Pentagon Won’t Discharge Transgender Service Members

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

At least not yet.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced last night that he will not remove or discharge transgender men and women who are currently serving in the military, but there's a caveat.

Mattis says he will not make a final decision until a study on transgender service is complete.

"Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction," Mattis said in the statement. "In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place."

It's not entirely clear what this will mean for the lawsuits filed against Trump's order this week, but I expect they will continue because this is only one part of it. Trump also ordered the Pentagon to stop accepting new transgender service members. A judge could rule that current service members have no standing to challenge the order, but in that case the ACLU and Lambda Legal could amend their lawsuits or file them again at a later date.

It's hard to guess what the Pentagon panel will conclude without knowing what's in the heart of people serving on it, but I can say our reluctance to accept transgender service members is an anomaly in the western world. Our closest allies already accept transgender men and women and our own forces have served alongside them in NATO without incident. It will be difficult for them to justify a conclusion that transgender service is detrimental.

Civil rights shouldn't be left up to a panel to decide, of course, but this could buy six months to a year of time under current policy.

  • Christopher Foxx

    It will be difficult for them to justify a conclusion that transgender service is detrimental.

    The ONLY way that transgender service is detrimental is that service members who are opposed to them then fail to to uphold their oath and do their duty.

    So the answer is simple: You get rid of the one who has shown they can’t do what’s required of them.
    Dishonorable discharge for those who decide they can’t serve alongside someone who is transgender.

  • muselet

    The Obama administration ordered a review of the Department of Defense’s policy on transgender servicemembers, with an eye to eliminating the previous ban. If the rumor mill is right, all the service chiefs were, after the expected grumbling and bickering, fine with allowing transgender people to serve.

    Unless James Mattis has appointed a whole new panel, made up entirely of homophobes and transphobes, to rehash the same arguments that were hashed out over the past couple of years—possible, but not likely—I would expect (hope) the panel to report back that a ban would be unnecessary and disruptive to the services. At worse, I fervently hope, the panel will recommend only the most minimal restrictions.

    Fingers crossed.


    • You read my mind…they already studied it and decided there was no issue. Herr Orangenpoof and The Pence of Darkness decided to make a stink about it. I think Mattis knows the results will be the same and he’s hoping to out wait them on this issue and nothing will change. In the meantime, I hope the ACLU stays on this case like a dog with a bone.

      • Draxiar

        Damn it Irish…I love your nicknames!

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    Or… Or the Pentagon is just trying to stall a few days in hopes that whoever is President then will be more rational.

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