Pentagon expected to make recommendation on transgender troops this week

President Trump will make a final decision on the policy by March 23.

Byby ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN and LUIS MARTINEZ
February 21, 2018, 12:51 PM

— -- Defense Secretary James Mattis will make his private recommendation to President Donald Trump this week on how to address military service by transgender individuals.

The deadline was originally Feb. 21, as outlined in an August presidential memorandum. But the Pentagon acknowledged on Wednesday that the recommendation will be made sometime this week.

Trump tweeted last July that he wanted to ban all transgender service members, saying the military "must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory."

The move reversed the 2016 Obama administration directive that allowed those individuals to serve openly for the first time.

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

The August memo directed the Pentagon to develop an implementation plan. Mattis then tasked a panel of experts to study the issue and inform his recommendation to the president, who will make the final policy decision that is scheduled to go into effect on March 23.

Since Trump's tweets, federal courts have rejected portions of the proposed ban. Most notably, beginning Jan. 1, the Pentagon complied with a court order that allowed transgender individuals to join the military if they met strict criteria, including certifications from a medical provider about the status of their health.

What do we know about transgender service members?

Last year, defense officials estimated there were about 200 transgender individuals in the U.S. military who had self-reported to their services a desire for some form of medical treatment related to their gender identity.

However, the actual number of transgender service members is still unknown, primarily because military personnel records do not currently track transgender individuals.

A 2016 Rand study, which was referenced by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, estimated that 2,450 active duty service members might be transgender with 1,510 in reserve units.

The same Rand study said that the "little research" on transgender service members showed "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness."

"Commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force," the study said.

At the time of the study, eighteen countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, allowed transgender personnel to serve openly.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events