Trump gives Mattis wide discretion over transgender ban

President Trump signed a long-awaited directive on Friday that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military but gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion in determining whether transgender personnel who are already in the armed forces can continue to serve.

A senior White House official told reporters that Mr. Mattis’s decisions will be based on several criteria, including military effectiveness and budgetary concerns. The official also said that the military would no longer pay for sex reassignment surgeries unless withholding such funds would harm the health of someone already transitioning.

Left unclear was how many of the thousands of transgender service personnel estimated to be in the military might keep serving. An estimated 2,000 to 11,000 active duty and reserve troops are transgender, according to a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation.