On Jan. 22, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of reversing the current standing policy of allowing transgender people in the military. Now the presidential administration and the Pentagon will be one step further in their mission to prohibit transgender service members in the U.S. armed forces.

At this time, there are approximately 900 transgender U.S. service men and women who are active duty in the armed forces and are directly affected by this ruling.

Presidential Memorandum Prohibits Transgender Individuals

According to the latest news out of Washington and as reported by The New York Times, the Supreme Court is upholding the ruling of a Presidential Memorandum from 2017. The Presidential Memorandum issued by President Donald Trump on Aug. 25, 2017, to the secretaries of defense and homeland security stated that:

  • Openly transgender individuals will not be allowed to enter into military service.
  • Openly transgender individuals can be discharged as authorized by the U.S. president.
  • Department of Defense and of Homeland Security will no longer be allowed to fund reassignment surgery for individuals in the military who are transitioning into another sex.

There was the exception of military service members already enrolled in sex reassignment treatment in the military. Those individuals who had been receiving treatment were able to continue with certain stipulations and time frames implemented.

Each of these mandates regarding transgender individuals were to be enacted, according to the memorandum, by March 28, 2018, at the latest deadline. However, that date is not relevant in the Supreme Court ruling at this present time.

Reasons for Ruling Reversal

There are a few reasons that the current president gives for reversing the previous administration’s policy on transgender individuals. These include authorizing Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security resources for sex reassignment surgery.

The Presidential Memorandum also notes that the reason for upholding the ban is, "In my judgment, the previous Administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the Departments’ longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources, and there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year’s policy change would not have those negative effects."

This is also known as the Mattis Plan, according to Stars and Stripes, named for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was responsible for writing this policy banning transgender individuals from military service. It should be noted that several organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, have shown disdain and public condemnation for this policy.

Potential for Change

Also in the Presidential Memorandum, Trump states that there is the possibility that the ruling could be changed in the future. According to the decree, if a sufficient basis is found to exist that would show that these negative effects as noted previously no longer existed, then openly transgender military members would be permitted to return to military service.

Current Situation for Transgender Military Members

Those openly transgender individuals accepted into the military via the previous presidential administration’s permission entered into service as soon as Jan. 1, 2018. These individuals were able to receive medical treatment as part of their transition. Now, however, this new ruling could very well overturn their ability to be in the military at all.