Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Tuesday that transgender troops will be allowed to serve in the United States military pending the results of a study.
The announcement comes after President Donald Trump signed a memo last week barring transgender people from serving in the military.
Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon adopted a policy that allowed transgender troops to receive gender reassignment surgery in the military.
Mattis said in a statement he would establish a “panel of experts” from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland security to assess the pros and cons of allowing transgender troops to serve.
“We will develop a study and implementation plan, which will contain the steps that will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion,” Mattis said in the statement. “The implementation plan will address the accessions of transgender individuals and transgender individuals currently serving in the military.”
“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 added.
President Trump sparked outrage when he announced his decision via Twitter to ban transgender people from serving in the military late July. He said it was about keeping the United States’ military focused on being effective.
“Our 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,” Trump tweeted.
While more details about the expert panel have yet to be released, Mattis echoed Trump’s earlier statement.
“Our focus must always be on what is best for the military’s combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield,” he said.