The White House will soon issue guidance to the Pentagon on how it should proceed with implementing President Donald Trump's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
According to the news outlet, the White House is expected to send the guidance in the coming days, which would mark the first official instruction from the White House on how the United States military is supposed to act on Trump's announcement on Twitter last month that openly serving transgender troops would no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces.
Trump's tweet signaled a reversal from an Obama-era policy enacted last year that lifted the ban on openly serving transgender troops and would have made the U.S. government responsible for covering gender reassignment treatment and procedures deemed medically necessary for transgender service members.
Sources familiar with the two-and-a-half-page guidance told WSJ that the docuement "directs the Pentagon to deny admittance to transgender individuals" and "stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those currently serving."
Additionally, the sources explained that the memo informs Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis that the ban is to be fully implemented in six months.
Trump announced the plan to ban transgender military service members as social conservative advocacy groups called for an end to the Obama-era transgender troop policy, suggesting that the policy weakens military readiness and creates privacy issues.
But after Trump tweeted his vow to ban transgender individuals from the military, LGBT activists and supporters were quick to voice their criticism of the transgender ban.
"Transgender people are just as deployable as other service members," Sue Fulton, an LGBT activist and former president of the LGBT military organization Sparta, told the outlet. "Other service members may undergo procedures when they are at home base, just as other service members schedule shoulder surgery or gall bladder surgery."
A Change.org petition calling on Trump to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military has amassed more than 225,000 supporters.
"This is extremely disgraceful and an insult to all those who have already given their lives for this country. This is not equality, and this is not 'supporting the LGBT community,' as he said he does. This is utterly transphobic," the petition reads. "Many people who served are going to be left jobless, and many others will no longer be able to fulfill their dreams. This is not okay, and this should not be legal. Trans people are still people."
Earlier this month, Trump defended his vow to ban transgender individuals from military service, saying during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., that he was doing a "great favor" for the military.
"And I think I'm doing a lot of people a favor by just coming out and saying it. As you know, it has been a very complicated issue for the military," the president said. "It's been a very confusing issue for the military and I think I am doing the military a great favor."
Following Trump's tweet, a group of retired flag-rank military officers that included Family Research Council Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin sent Trump a letter, expressing their gratitude and argued that the Obama-era policy would have been costly.
"Even if it can be scientifically demonstrated that gender reassignment procedures medically benefit some individuals, there will still be concerns about the deployability of these individuals," the letter reads. "DoD guidelines require that those serving in the military be 'medically adaptable to the military environment without the necessity of geographic area limitations.' However, both hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery result in the need for specialized medical care which will not be available in all geographic locations."
"Aside from the time lost due to the non-deployability of the person transitioning, one must also consider the time taken away from commanding officers for transgender case management. The detailed assessment and management of these complex cases by commanders would have been substantial," the letter continues. "Needless to say, that is time not being spent training or thinking about how to engage and defeat our enemies in combat. The shifting of CO time would have been a real detriment to military effectiveness."