Secretary of Defense James Mattis has temporarily halted implementation of President Trump’s deeply prejudiced plan to prevent transgender troops from serving in the military. On Tuesday evening Mattis announced that “current policies with respect to currently serving members will remain in place” while a panel of experts examines how to implement Trump’s Twitter tirade cum actual policy.
“Our focus must always be on what is best for the military’s combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield,” Mattis said. “To that end, I will 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.”
General Mattis’ announcement is really more of a delay than cessation, but it’s a crucial delay that will allow trans troops to continue serving until the panel delivers its recommendations. His statement also aligns with the military’s previous response to Trump’s initial announcement of the ban, when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, said that “there will be no modifications to the current policy.”
A 2016 RAND Corporation study found that allowing transgender troops to serve poses no “significant effect” on readiness to serve or unit cohesion. The same investigation estimated that trans troops would cost the military a maximum of $8.4 million, which may seem high, but the cost pales in comparison to the Defense Department’s $6 billion budget — it’s also a lot less than the $84 million spent on on erectile dysfunction drugs in 2014.