US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that transgender troops would continue to serve in the military while he studies an order by President Donald Trump banning them from US forces.
Trump surprised Pentagon leaders in July by announcing via Twitter the ban on transgender people serving “in any capacity”, reversing a plan launched by his predecessor Barack Obama that would see the military accept openly transgender recruits.
Trump said at the time that the integration of transgender troops would result in “tremendous medical costs and disruption,” and issued a formal memorandum last Friday on the issue, saying the ban should be in effect from March 23, 2018.
But the memorandum gave Mattis discretion on how to handle transgender people already serving in the military.
The administration was facing lawsuits by transgender groups and service members, and on Monday the American Civil Liberties Union also filed a suit on behalf of several transgender troops challenging Trump s order.
In a statement, Tuesday Mattis appeared cautious about implementing Trump s order.