The Trump administration will “disclose” a new policy on February 21 regarding the legality of transgender people serving in the military, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday, and the Department of Justice has apparently told a federal judge that the DOJ is preparing to defend it.
While U.S. officials declined to specify what the policy will entail, all signs point to it being a more formal extension of an executive memo released last August, which argued that “the [Obama] Administration failed to [ascertain that transgender military service] would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources.”
In that same memo, Trump gave defense secretary Jim Mattis until February 21 to “submit an implementation plan” for new recruitment rules, retention, and health care policies.
All three of those provisions have been put on hold by various federal courts — including by [Marvin J.] Garbis in a challenge backed by the ACLU — and the administration stopped fighting a Jan. 1 deadline for accepting new military recruits who are transgender days before the deadline went into effect.
This week, Justice Department lawyers argued in one of those challenges that the defendants could not comply with obligations to turn over the required information “because they will not be defending the policy now at issue but will be defending the policy to be disclosed on February 21, 2018,” Garbis wrote in a Tuesday order.
At least six different courts have ruled that Trump’s proposed ban on transgender recruits serving in the military is discriminatory, and the Department of Defense began allowing trans applicants to enlist beginning January 1.