Washington, DC – The US Department of Defense on Thursday (Mar. 29) dodged questions to clarify the implementation process of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ recommendation on the Pentagon’s transgender policy.
Chief Pentagon spokesperson, Dana W. White, told journalists that although the Defense Department issued a transgender policy as the result of a suggestion Mattis made to the president, four court orders have directed department to continue “assessing transgender applicants for military service and retaining current transgender service members.”
“Because there is ongoing litigation, and to safeguard the integrity of the court process, I am unable to provide any further details at this time,” she added.
The current transgender policy, implemented during former Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s tenure in 2016, states that transgender service members can serve openly and they cannot be separated solely based on their gender identity.
After President Donald Trump told the Pentagon in August 2017 to reverse the policy and to ban transgender people from service, a judge temporarily blocked his ban in October last year.
However, Mattis’ memo to the White House in February this year asked that service members who have a history of gender dysphoria be disqualified from service except for certain circumstances. Also, service members who require or have undergone gender transition procedures are disqualified without an exception.
“We will continue to comply with four court orders assessing transgender applicants for military service and retaining current transgender service members,” concluded White.
White also welcomed the spending act which President Donald J. Trump signed into law recently and which provides more than $700 billion to improve military readiness and to modernize the force. “We will use the money to rebuild and restore our military to ensure we remain the most lethal force in the world,” White said.
Commenting further on pragmatic use as envisaged by Defense Secretary James N. Mattis in a Mar. 26 memo, “to gain full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense,” White said: “We are humbled and grateful to the American people for entrusting their hard-earned tax dollars to us … We owe it to them to spend their money wisely.”
ISIS, Kurdish Issues
Discussing the ongoing situation in Syria, White observed that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been significantly degraded, but not yet eliminated. “Important work remains to guarantee the lasting defeat of these violent extremists,” she said. “Our commitment to win must outlast the so-called physical caliphate, and the warped ideas that guide the calculated cruelty of ISIS.”
On the confusing situation about the role of Kurdish fighters in defeating ISIS and Turkey’s concerns about Kurdish terrorists on its border with Syria, White noted, “We are working with our NATO ally Turkey to reassure them that we understand their security concerns and will appropriately address them as we fight ISIS together,” adding, “But we must not become distracted and reduce the pressure on ISIS.”