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Trump Swaps Complete Ban For 'Qualified Ban' On Transgender Military Service

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Trump has revoked a blanket ban on transgender military service he tried to impose last summer. A new detailed ban released late last night has the support of some religious conservatives but has renewed fury among advocates for transgender service members who vow to continue their fight in court. From member station WBUR, Martha Bebinger reports.

MARTHA BEBINGER, BYLINE: The revised ban applies to anyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria. That's the medical condition for those who receive care typically during their transition. The White House spelled out exceptions for service members who agree not to present as transgender or do anything to change their gender and for current transgender troops. But there's great confusion about who'd be in and who'd be out. Matthew Thorn is president of the LGBT military association OutServe.

MATTHEW THORN: They could really discharge anyone who is transgender in the military. This is a categorical ban.

BEBINGER: In a memo filed yesterday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote about the voluntary limits on personal freedoms that men and women in the military must accept to be sure they are ready for combat. Some conservative Christian groups are pleased to see President Trump restrict service for transgender troops who have had surgery or who continue with hormone treatment. Andrew Beckwith is president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

ANDREW BECKWITH: We think that's a good move, restores the focus on military readiness and deployability that we had until roughly 18 months ago under the Obama administration.

BEBINGER: Trans military groups, including SPART*A, point out that many non-trans troops have surgery or are on hormone replacement therapy and continue to serve. Sparta President Blake Dremann says the average transgender service member spends eight years in the military and has two deployments.

BLAKE DREMANN: There's no justification for this ban. And there's no justification for leaving our country without service members who are fully capable of performing their duties to the standards set forth by their commanders.

BEBINGER: The revised ban is on hold. There are four lawsuits pending. Attorneys for the defendants in one case are due in court next week on a motion to have the ban permanently overturned. For NPR News, I'm Martha Bebinger in Boston.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ALBUM LEAF'S "SEE IN YOU") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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