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August 31, 2017

*-- Mattis: Transgender troops can continue to serve for now --*

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Tuesday that transgender troops will be allowed to continue their military service and receive full medical benefits pending the results of a study.

The announcement comes just four days after President Donald Trump signed a directive that prevents transgender people from being recruited into the military and bans the Department of Defense from paying for sex reassignment regimens for transgender individuals currently in the military. The directive reversed an Obama administration decision to lift a ban on transgender troops in the military.
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But Mattis' announcement pauses Trump's directive on all fronts until the conclusion of the study.

"Our focus must always be on what is best for the military's combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield," Mattis said in a statement. "To that end, I will establish a panel of experts serving within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president's direction."

He added: "Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction. In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place."

Trump has been roundly criticized for his decision to put restrictions on transgender troops and the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of several transgender active transgender members of the military, filed a lawsuit Monday against the president for his directive.

"Every justification that the president has offered in support of the ban has already been thoroughly reviewed and debunked by the Department of Defense itself when it adopted a policy permitting military service by transgender individuals last year," the ACLU said.