On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that bans transgender individuals from joining the military. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will have almost exclusive control in determining the future of transgender people in service.
Of course, the ban will affect the thousands of transgender military personnel already in service. Mattis will have until February 21st to submit an official plan for the ban, though White House personnel have stated that as of now, Mattis hasn't made any direct action indicating what those plans may be.
As the New York Times reports, Mattis will be using criteria such as "military effectiveness and budgetary concerns" to determine if transgender military personnel already in service continue their service.
The ban was first announced last month after Trump proposed it to resolve a fight in Congress to determine if taxpayer money should be used for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender military personnel. After Trump's announcement, an anonymous White House official described the memo to the NY Times as "a return to policies in place before the Obama administration moved last year to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military without fear of punishment." They also noted that the military would no longer pay for sex reassignment surgeries unless the health of the individual that was already transitioning was in danger.
The danger of the ban extends beyond simply allowing transgender citizens to serve in the military; it effectively cuts off access to life-saving medical procedures and medicine. For many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, surgeries like gender reassignment and hormone therapy are necessary for survival — and serving in the military is one of the few options that many have to afford to transition.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called himself a defender of LGBTQ+ rights. However, his support of the ban and other anti-LGBTQ+ directives show the opposite to be the case. Even with the potential for some transgender military personnel to continue in the service, the news is a demonstration of anti-trans lawmaking that signals a lack of support for the community.