A memo, released late on Friday, laid out the new policy, which formalises a pledge first made by US President Donald Trump on Twitter to implement a ban. "This hateful ban is purpose-built to humiliate our courageous transgender members of the military who serve with honor & dignity".
There is also an exception for people now in the military who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria between the implementation of an Obama-era policy allowing transgender people to serve and the start of the new Trump administration policy.
In a statement, the White House defended the ban as a common-sense way to "apply well-established mental and physical health standards-including those regarding the use of medical drugs-equally to all individuals".
As with Trump's various iterations of the Muslim ban, this new-and-improved version of the ban on transgender servicepeople is likely meant to stave off or address the current court challenges to the existing policy.
"This Trump-Pence plan categorically bans transgender people from service, with no legitimate basis", said Jennifer Levi, transgender rights project director for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.
In a memo to the president, dated February 22, Mattis cited "substantial risks" about military personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity.
The policy adopts recommendations that Trump received last month from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Trump announced the ban in July to resolve a quietly brewing fight on Capitol Hill over whether taxpayer money should pay for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members. "It is reverse-engineered for the sole objective of carrying out President Trump's reckless and unconstitutional ban, undermining the ability of transgender service members to serve openly and military readiness as a whole". A Rand Corp study estimates there are 2,500 transgender personnel serving in active duty, and 1,500 in the reserves. Mattis recommends those diagnosed with gender dysphoria since Obama ended the Pentagon's ban on transgender troops in 2016 can continue to serve-though, again, they'll have to do so under the sex they were assigned at birth. He accused the Obama administration of allowing transgender military service without identifying a "sufficient basis" that doing so would not "hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources", and he directed Mattis to have the Pentagon adopt a new ban similar to the military's former policy by Friday. They have before. But should that fail (let's not forget, Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced S.1820, a bill "to provide for the retention and service of transgender members of the Armed Forces", back in September of 2017.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, who was featured in a 2015 documentary about transgender troops, posted a March 23 Facebook message saying that he will continue to serve as long as he can.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization, accused the Trump administration of pushing "anti-transgender prejudices onto the military".
An official statement from the White House claimed the policy was "developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans". Generally, these new policies are subject to a public comment period before they are officially enacted.