“Transgender service members whose term of service expires while the interim guidance is in effect, may, at the service member’s request, re-enlist under existing procedures,” US Army Col. Rob Manning, a Department of Defense spokesman, told reporters Friday. “Current transgender service members will continue serve throughout the military and continue to receive necessary medical treatment as prescribed by their medical provider in accordance with the Military Health System guidance.”
This is the first time the Pentagon has explicitly acknowledged that transgender service members will be able to re-enlist while it reviews Trump’s ban on transgender recruits.
In late-August, Trump issued a directive to the Pentagon banning transgender people from enlisting in the military. The directive left a lot of questions unanswered, including what it would mean for transgender people already serving in the military. Transgender troops have been openly serving in the military since June 2016.
Days after Trump’s directive, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced the creation of a panel to “provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the President’s direction,” Mattis’ statement said.
Manning emphasized Friday that the “same current policy and procedures” remain in place on transgender service members while the review takes place.
Mattis released interim guidance Thursday calling for the development of a plan to implement the directives in the President’s memorandum on transgender military service.
A bipartisan group of senators also introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act on Friday that would prevent the Defense Department from removing transgender people from military service.
Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine, along with Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, introduced the legislation, which would also “express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve,” a statement on the amendment read.