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Here’s How Mattis Will Implement Trump’s Transgender Troop Ban For Now

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Secretary of Defense James Mattis will allow transgender service members to re-enlist in the U.S. military while he develops a more permanent policy which will take effect in February 2018, according to a memo the Pentagon released Monday.

The existing U.S. military ban on transgender recruits will remain in place. The memo clarified that existing transgender service members with a diagnosis of gender dysmorphia from a military medical provider will continue to be provided paid treatment, but added that new sex reassignment surgeries will not be paid for after March 2018.

Mattis also clarified that no transgender service members will be separated from the military in the interim. To develop more permanent guidance, Mattis announced in late August he would “establish a panel of experts serving within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president’s direction.”

No official estimate for the number of openly transgender service members in the U.S. military is publicly available, but a June 2016 study by the RAND corporation put the number at 7,000. Prior to Trump’s announcement, reports indicated that service branches were having difficulty crafting integration policies for future transgender service members. The service’s objections appeared to stem from logistical rather than ideological concerns. The logistical concerns include a lack of funding for upgraded group showers and changes to service members’ living quarters.

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