Summary of Trump Administration Policy on Transgender Military Service

Summary of Trump Administration Policy on Transgender Military Service

By Peter Sprigg Senior Fellow for Policy Studies

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,”

Meet The Author
Peter Sprigg Senior Fellow for Policy Studies

Peter S. Sprigg is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Mr. Sprigg joined FRC in 2001, and his research and writing have addressed (Full Bio)

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