On Wednesday 26th July, Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people in the military. This means that new openly transgender military members won't be able to begin enlisting, as was previously planned. But 15,500 trans people serve in the military already, making the US Defense Department the country's biggest employer of trans people.
Trump's announcement left it unclear what would happen to them. When White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about them at a press briefing, she said the Defense Department was still figuring it out.
Now, it appears that the department has arrived at a decision. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, clarified the policy for current transgender military members on Thursday in a letter addressed to military service chiefs and other leaders, Reuters reports.
"I know there are questions about yesterday's announcement on the transgender policy by the President," he wrote. "There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance."
He added that the military would "continue to treat all of our personnel with respect," The New York Times reports. "As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions."
Current trans military members gained the right to openly identify as transgender last year, and the plan under Obama was for openly trans people to be able to enlist starting 1st July. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last month that their entry would be delayed by six months. Now, Trump's new policy has put an end to this plan entirely.