A Pentagon panel has delivered its recommendations to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the future policy regarding transgender individuals joining and serving in the military, according to Pentagon spokesperson Major Dave Eastburn.
This is the first milestone toward a new trans military policy since the White House released a memo in August calling for a review of the existing policy. The memo directed Secretary Mattis to report his recommendations for a new policy to President Donald Trump by Feb. 21.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Maryland filed an order stating that Justice Department lawyers informed him they “cannot now comply” with a previous ruling against the president’s proposed trans military ban, because the department will be “defending" a new policy that will be disclosed on Feb. 21. A Defense Department official, however, denied there is a plan to release a new policy to the public on Feb. 21.
Several LGBTQ advocacy groups released statements critical of the president after the court order was first reported by Buzzfeed.
“President Trump’s transgender ban is senseless, unconstitutional, and bad for the country. Trans Ban 2.0 is sure to also be senseless, unconstitutional, and bad for the country,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality said in a statement sent to NBC News. “No matter how the administration re-brands, any policy that singles people out because they are transgender cannot pass the smell test.”
A 2016 report conducted by the RAND Corporation and commissioned by the Defense Department estimated there are between 1,320 and 6,630 active-duty transgender service members in the U.S. military.