Defense Secretary James Mattis has given the White House his recommendation on what to do about transgender people serving in the military, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed Friday.
Mattis made the recommendation Friday morning, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Dave Eastburn said. The spokesman declined to comment on the details of the recommendations.
“The recommendations were a private conversation between the secretary and the White House, and the contents will remain private,” Eastburn said.
The Washington Post on Thursday reported that Mattis would recommend allowing transgender troops to continue to serve in the military, despite President Trump ‘s tweeted desire to ban transgender people from serving in any capacity.
In tweets sent in July, Trump announced his intentions to ban transgender people from serving in the military. He followed through with an August memo prohibiting the military from enlisting transgender people and from using funds to pay for gender transition-related surgery.
That memo also gave Mattis six months to determine what to do with transgender troops who are already serving.
Several courts have blocked the ban from coming into force while lawsuits against it are pending.
Following the August memo, Mattis convened a panel to review the issue and make recommendations on the policy. He faced a Feb. 21 deadline to give Trump his advice, but missed it because the issue is “complex,” the Pentagon said.
“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he has been given,” chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and, again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality. And as you said, it was a self-imposed deadline.”
Last week, the Pentagon released a new “deploy or get out” policy that says anyone who has been non-deployable for 12 months or will be separated.
The timing of the announcement has led some observers to link the new policy to the issue of how to handle troops who are transitioning genders, as a policy that applies to the entire force has a better chance of passing muster in a court.