Summary of Trump Administration Policy on Transgender Military Service

Summary of Trump Administration Policy on Transgender Military Service

Brief Timeline of Military Transgender Policy

  • Before 2016 – Persons who identify as transgender are generally prohibited from serving in the military.[i]
  • July 1, 2016 – In final year of Obama administration, new policy announced by Defense Secretary Ash Carter takes effect, ending discharges of transgender Service members; will allow those who identify as transgender to join the military beginning July 1, 2017.[ii]
  • June 30, 2017 – President Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis postpones July 1 deadline for accession of transgender-identified Service members by six months.[iii]
  • July 26, 2017 – President Trump announces reversal of the Obama/Carter policy on Twitter, declaring that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”[iv]
  • August 25, 2017 – President Trump issues memorandum instructing Secretary Mattis to draft policies to implement his decision.[v]
  • August-December, 2017 – Four lawsuits are filed challenging Trump policy; judges in all four cases issue preliminary injunctions against implementation of Trump policy.[vi]
  • January 1, 2018 – Pursuant to the court injunctions, the Armed Forces begin to accept applicants who identify as transgender.
  • March 23, 2018 – The White House and Department of Defense release documents laying out a new policy regarding military service by those who identify as transgender.[vii]

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[i] Peter Sprigg, “Should Individuals Who Identify as Transgender Be Permitted to Serve in the Military?” Family Research Council, September 2016,

[ii] “Military Service of Transgender Service Members,” Department of Defense, June 30, 2016,

[iii] “More time allowed for review of new transgender enlistments,” Fox News, July 1, 2017, accessed April 5, 2018,

[iv] Jacob Pramuk, “Trump says his administration will block transgender people from serving in the military,”, July 26, 2017, accessed April 5, 2018,

[v] “Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security,” The White House, August 25, 2017, accessed April 5, 2018,

[vi] Maria Perez, “Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Is Being Legally Challenged,” Newsweek, January 27, 2018, accessed April 5, 2018,

[vii] “March 23 Policy Implementation,”