The Pentagon’s top spokeswoman on Thursday repeatedly refused to clarify parts of the Defense Department’s policy on transgender troops, leaving the future of some service members unknown.
One of the issues being questioned is whether transitioning or already transitioned transgender service members would be kicked out of the military under the new proposal.
Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White would not say whether this would happen under Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisFormer Defense Secretary Mattis testifies in Theranos CEO trial 20 years after 9/11, we've logged successes but the fight continues Defense & National Security — The mental scars of Afghanistan MORE’s recommendations, citing pending litigation. Four lawsuits challenging President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE’s order last summer to ban transgender troops are still working their way through the courts.
“I’m limited in my ability to talk about it,” White told reporters at the Pentagon.
“The department remains under four court orders, so we continue to assess transgender individuals as well as retain transgender service members. But beyond that I have to respect the integrity of the litigation. I’d have to refer you to the Department of Justice,” she said.
Mattis on Friday approved and signed a memo to Trump with the new policy recommendations, and the White House issued a memorandum later that day stating that transgender people are “disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances.”
Mattis's unclassified memo to the president — filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle and published online — states that the Defense Department concluded there were “substantial risks associated with allowing the accession and retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and require, or have already undertaken, a course of treatment to change their gender.”
The retired four-star general consulted a panel of experts in crafting the recommendations, but White would not say who was on the panel.
She also would not explain why it was the responsibility of the Justice Department to explain the memo submitted and approved by the Pentagon.
“Much of that will be explained through litigation, and as the Department of Justice is the lead, I have to respect the current process. But we remain under those four court orders and we continue to comply,” she said.
White is keeping with top Pentagon officials in refusing to clarify the Pentagon’s new transgender policy recommendations and sidestepping inquiries about who helped Mattis reach his conclusions.
Earlier Thursday, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein would not answer a reporter’s question on whether his service had any officials on the panel of specialists and what contributed to the findings.
“Secretary Mattis has his made recommendations, and right now because it's in the litigation process, I don't think I would go any farther than that,” he replied.
And Mattis himself on Monday cited ongoing lawsuits in not answering questions on his recommendations.
“I think the statements stand on their own right now, and I don't need to waste our guests time reiterating what's already down,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.