“The Secretary of Defense made his recommendation to the White House this morning,” said Pentagon spokesman Maj. Dave Eastburn. “The recommendation was a private conversation between the secretary and the White House, and the contents of the conversation will remain private.”
Reports this week suggested that Mattis would urge Trump to allow transgender troops to remain in the U.S. military, despite the president’s shocking announcement last summer that they would no longer be allowed to serve “in any capacity.”
In a series of tweets on July 26, 2017, Trump said that “after consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow ... Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
He added that 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.”
The president issued a memorandum in August outlining the policy change, set to take effect by March 23, 2018. He instructed Mattis to present a plan for implementation with specific directives by Feb. 21.
Eastburn said the secretary’s recommendations were delivered two days after that date because Mattis “has said that this was an important decision and he wanted to make sure that they made the best recommendation possible, and that’s how long it took.”
Several federal courts have ruled against the ban and allowed transgender people to enlist in the military this year.
Eastburn said he could not confirm if any policy changes would be announced by March 23.
“The policy will be set forth by the president, and the White House will announce that policy when he’s made his decision,” Eastburn said. “We’re not putting a date on it.”