President Trump signed a memo Friday directing the Pentagon to implement the ban on transgender troops he unexpectedly announced in late July. The document says the Defense Department (DoD) must stop accepting openly transgender recruits but allows Pentagon leadership to decide whether active transgender personnel can continue in their roles.
The memo also prohibits federal spending on sex-reassignment surgeries unless they are needed "to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her sex." The DoD has six months to decide what to do about current transgender personnel.
Trump's apparently impromptu July announcement has come under broad criticism in subsequent weeks. "Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving ... regardless of their gender identity" said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
McCain's Democratic colleague, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), released a widely shared statement Thursday referencing her own military experience to oppose the ban. "When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown," she said. "All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind."