Late Tuesday night, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that transgender troops will be allowed to continue serving in the military, pending the results of a study of experts on the matter - effectively freezing the transgender military ban that President Trump announced earlier this summer, USA Today reports
In a statement, Mattis said that the ban would not go into effect until he had received advice from a panel of experts from the Department of Defense and Homeland Security on how it would be implemented.
NEW: Statement by SecDef Mattis on Transgender ban pic.twitter.com/QhB19NWidG
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) August 29, 2017
"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," Mattis said. "In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place."
Mattis's announcement comes only days after the White House said that it would soon issue more detailed guidelines to the Defense Department on how to proceed with the ban - however, details on the ban have continued to remain murky ever since it was announced. Many were already speculating that Mattis would be more concerned with service, and find a way to offer leeway to transgender members already serving in the military - and it appears that his latest statement confirms that he's not rushing to implement the ban any time soon.
Meanwhile, the ACLU announced yesterday that they have filed a lawsuit challenging the ban's constitutionality - so it will be interesting to see how that may take shape following Mattis's statement.