The Secretary of Defense James "Mad Dog" Mattis stated that transgender troops can stay in the military until its recently launched study is completed. His statement comes shortly after President Trump signed an order to cease enlistment of transgender individuals in the US armed forces. Trump's order instructed Secretary Mattis to also explore ways to effectively deal with currently serving transgender people within the armed forces that were enabled by then-president Barack Obama.
Mattis went on to note that he needs to wait for a panel's report on the situation and will then need to consult with Homeland Security before he can properly advise the president with regards to the implementation of his policy.
He noted that in the meantime, the current standing policy will remain unchanged and in effect.
President Trump brought up the issue previously via Twitter, saying that after consulting his generals and other military experts that the US government will no longer accept or allow transgender people to continue to serve in the US military in any way, shape or form.
Trump elaborated that the military should be focused on swift and overwhelming victory and has no room for further burdens that include increased medical expenditures and potential disruption that transgender individuals cause within the armed forces.
Mattis's statement appears to back-peddle a bit from a statement he recently made vowing to implement the president's directive, which caused widespread backlash among both sides of the political spectrum.
The statement at the center of the backlash said that the DOD intended to carry out the president's policy directive and will begin a study and implementation plan containing the step necessary to promote military readiness, lethalness and cohesion while keeping in mind the budgetary constraints and applicable laws.
Mattis at the time, did actually mention that he would found a panel of experts from within the DOD and Homeland Security to come up with informed recommendations to propose to President Trump.
He continued that his focus must always be in the troops and what is best for their combat effectiveness that essentially leads to victory on the battlefield.
President Trump opined that the Obama administration failed to prove that by terminating the departments' longstanding policy of disallowing transgender members would not hinder the armed forces effectiveness, lethality, unit cohesion or associated additional costs to the government. He continued that more study is required to ensure the implementation of 2016's policy change would not have such negative effects.
LGBT groups were clearly against the idea of banning transgenders from the armed forces, as would be expected. A group of high ranking retired military officers expressed their gratitude for Trump's desire to throw out the Obama-era policy.
Esteemed Senator John McCain, a former Navy captain, endorsed and even praised Secretary Mattis' statement on the basis that he is taking the time and care to further study things before going ahead with the implementation of the directive.
In 2016 the Pentagon had a non-partisan corporation examine the effects on military readiness with regard to transgender troops and the study's data estimates the number of transgender service members number between a few to a few thousand. They concluded that while the additional healthcare costs would total roughly $8 million per year, the effect on military readiness would be negligible.