Published: Sun, September 17, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Defense Secretary Mattis says current transgender troops can re-enlist, for now

Defense Secretary Mattis says current transgender troops can re-enlist, for now

Senator John McCain announced his support of a bipartisan bill to block President Trump's transgender military ban.

Last month, Trump signed a directive that would abandon plans to open the military to transgender recruits unless he is convinced otherwise, would halt the use of federal resources to fund sex reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel come March and ordered Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to decide the fate of now serving transgender troops.

"When less than 1% of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country", said Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The order gave Mattis the authority to determine if transgender service members now serving in the military would be allowed to stay. Mattis has until February 21 2018 to present a plan to the White House.

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According to the Associated Press, Mattis's memo made clear that "transgender individuals can continue to serve in the military and continue to receive any required medical care".

GLAAD - the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation - called President Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the United States military "a direct attack on transgender Americans". He also said that a ban "may also deprive our military of trained and skilled service members and leave vacancies that may not be easy to fill".

The legislation also requires Mattis to complete his policy review by end of the year and to provide the results to Congress. Under Obama previous year, the Pentagon ended its ban on transgender people serving openly, calling the prohibition outdated. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the ranking Democrat on the committee, and committee members Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, in introducing a bill to thwart the president's plan. This amendment received bipartisan support, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to bring it up for a vote during floor debate for the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

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McCain was one of 4 co-sponsors of the legislation.

"Transgender service members whose term expires while the (current) guidance is in effect may re-enlist under existing procedures", Manning said.Trump's transgender ban has already sparked several legal challenges. Thousands of courageous transgender Americans love our country enough to risk their lives for it, fight for it, and even die for it, and Congress should honor them and let them serve.

The next step is seeing what other senators sign onto the bill, and whether McConnell is willing to give it a floor vote.

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