WASHINGTON, March 23 (Xinhua) -- US President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Friday that bans most transgender troops from military service, gives discretion to the armed forces in implementing the policies.
The accession or retention of individuals "with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria" -- those who may require substantial medical treatment-- "presents considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality," said a statement released by the White House late Friday.
US President Donald Trump (Photo: Xinhua)
They are "disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances," according to the memo.
"The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, with respect to the US Coast Guard, may exercise their authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals," it added.
Trump first called for a ban on transgender troops last summer and issued a memo later that prevents transgender individuals from enlisting.
He also gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to develop proposals on transgender individuals currently serving in the US armed forces.
However, the president's push for the ban has been thwarted by legal challenges, and several federal courts have ruled against his order. The Pentagon has allowed those serving to stay in the armed forces and began allowing transgender people to enlist early this year.
The Human Rights Campaign, a US civil rights organization, said in a statement that the administration "is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops."
Last July, Trump tweeted that the US government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.
The military "must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," he said then.
It remains unclear how much impact the new order will have on the US military. A Pentagon-commissioned study in 2016 showed there are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender service members in the armed forces.
The study also concluded that allowing them to serve openly would have a minimal impact on the readiness and health care costs of the 1.3-million-member US military force.