Longtime LGBT advocate Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, responded to reports that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis put a "hold" on a new ban on transgender servicemembers. Mattis said they would be allowed to continue serving in the military pending the results of a study.
"The USA Today story is grossly misleading," Minter said. "Secretary Mattis did not make a decision to 'buy time' or to 'freeze' the current policy. The President's August 25, 2017 Memorandum expressly provides that the new ban does not go into effect until March 23, 2018 and expressly states that no one can be discharged for being transgender in the meantime. There is nothing new at all here, and suggesting otherwise is terribly misleading.
"This inaccurate reporting is playing into a patently bogus strategy to make it appear that there is going to be some new 'study' that will legitimate what is already a forgone conclusion: the discriminatory banning of military service by transgender people, based on a characteristic that has no bearing on their fitness to serve. The August 25 Memorandum is perfectly clear: President Trump has ordered the military to ban transgender people from serving. That ban will go into effect in about 7 months, on March 23. That appalling decision is not ( and cannot possibly be, given its timing ) based on any hastily assembled, post hoc 'study' that is being cooked up now in a transparent effort to provide a retroactive fig leaf for the President's bigotry. This order is an act of pure animus toward transgender people. The military spent two years carefully reviewing all of the relevant evidence on this issue and concluded that there is no reason to exclude transgender people from military service. The cost of inclusion is literally negligible, and there is no evidence that permitting open service will have any negative impact on military readiness. The notion that there is any good faith 'study' being conducted is a blatant pretext for unmitigated, vicious, baseless discrimination.
"More than ever, we need reporters to fact check these stories and not simply repeat false information that is being used to set up an attempted cover for one of the most shocking acts of official discrimination the transgender community has ever experienced.
"There is no new 'freeze.' This is just what the August 25 [Memorandum] orderedalong with a permanent ban on enlistment, effective now, and a new ban on open service, effective on March 23, 2018."
On Twitter, the ACLU's Chase Strangio stated: "I do [think] this headline and article overstate what is happening here. Surgeries are still being cancelled and reenlistments denied."