Trump bars most transgenders from US military

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Washington, March 24 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has moved ahead with his plan to ban most transgenders from serving in the military, with limited exceptions, following up on a proposal he called for last year.

The White House issued a memorandum on Friday night on policies determined by Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, stating that transgenders were “disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances”, The Hill magazine reported.

The memorandum, filed in the US District Court in Seattle, stated that “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances”.

According to a Pentagon memo about the policy, exceptions to the ban included people who have been “stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession”, servicemembers who “do not require a change of gender” and troops who started serving under the Obama administration’s policy prior to the new memo.

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Mattis will have some leeway in implementing the policy, the memo stated, as will Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen when it comes to the Coast Guard.

The two top officials “may exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals”, it said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the Trump administration’s move as “cowardly” and “disgusting”.

“This latest memorandum is the same cowardly, disgusting ban the President announced last summer. No one with the strength and bravery to serve in the US military should be turned away because of who they are,” Pelosi said.

LGBT advocates also denounced the move. “There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops,” Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said.

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“The Trump-Pence administration’s continued insistence on targeting our military families for discrimination is appalling, reckless and unpatriotic,” said American Military Partner Association president Ashley Broadway-Mack.

Trump first called for a ban on transgender troops last year and followed up by issuing a memo banning transgender people from enlisting.

The ban has since been battled over in court, with Mattis in February giving Trump a final recommendation. Several federal courts blocked Trump’s initial ban, with one ruling in November that the military would be forced to resume accepting transgender recruits starting this year.

In February, the Pentagon confirmed that one transgender recruit had joined a branch of the military. It was unclear what Trump’s decision will mean for that unnamed recruit and the estimated thousands of other transgender Americans currently serving active duty in the military.

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