The White House is expected to give the Defense Department the authority to kick out transgender service members in the next six months

By Julie Mazziotta
August 24, 2017 11:58 AM
Courtesy Jennifer Peace; Courtesy Ken Ochoa; Courtesy Trish King; David Stephenson; Courtesy Laila Ireland; Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty; Courtesy Blake Dremann

President Trump is expected to give the Defense Department the authority to remove transgender service members in the next six months, and will begin to bar any new members from enlisting, according to the New York Times.

The White House will soon release a memo that allows Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, the discretion to dismiss transgender service members. It will also end medical coverage for sexual reassignment surgery and hormone treatments for those currently serving.

The memo comes one month after Trump announced the proposed ban in a series of tweets, saying that the “military must be focused” and “cannot be burdened” with the medical costs of transgender military members.

Trump’s tweets left the Joint Chiefs of Staff scrambling to figure out how to interpret and implement his decision, before deciding that transgender members can remain in service until the military receives further guidance.

It also left the estimated 15,000 transgender service members wondering about their employment, just a year after the Obama administration lifted an old policy and allowed trans people to serve openly.

RELATED VIDEO: Everything Donald Trump Has Said About the LGBTQ Community as President Announces Trans Military Ban

Army Cpt. and Intelligence Officer Jennifer Peace, who is transgender, told PEOPLE that suddenly reversing that decision is harmful to any minority group in the military.

“You’ll have people losing trust in the military and leadership, because a year ago the military said, you can serve if you’re transgender, we’ll support you, come out,” Peace, 31, says. “So if thousands of people come out, and then are suddenly removed from the military, how do you feel secure if you’re Muslim, or a woman, or Black, or an atheist? How can you feel safe, because you could be the next group that is announced can no longer serve in the military.”

Logan Ireland, a transgender Air Force Staff Sgt., told PEOPLE that the move takes highly trained people out of the military.

“For the President to deny an able-bodied, fully qualified person the inherent right to raise their right hand and serve their country, potentially giving their own life for our freedoms, is doing this country an injustice,” Ireland, 29, said.