A month after tweeting about a ban of transgender Americans serving “in any capacity” in the United States, on Friday President Trump made his announcement official, releasing a memo directing the Pentagon to roll back an Obama-era order allowing transgender individuals to serve. The memo ends a month of confusion within military leadership over the unofficial nature of the tweeted statement, but also sets the stage for further controversy and legal debates.
The Obama administration order to allow transgender individuals to serve came under former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in 2016, and originally would’ve allowed recruitment and service by openly transgender individuals as early as July 2017. Additionally, Carter provided guidance for medical care and for providing services for those who transition while in the military, and since that guidance military leadership has avoided punishments and discharges based on gender identity.
Under Trump, however, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis delayed the official start of the Obama order until January 2018, until a six-month study on how the inclusion of transgender soldiers might affect “lethality” of the armed forces could be completed.