What it Means, and Why it is Contrary to Fact and Law

Analysis from the Palm Center Understanding Trump’s Memo on Transgender Servicemembers: What it Means, and Why it is Contrary to Fact and Law

On August 25, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum, Military Service by Transgender Individuals, directing the Pentagon to bar transgender Americans from military service. But the memo has been mischaracterized in media reports, and has generated considerable confusion among the public. In this policy summary, we clarify the President’s memo, show that it is inconsistent with both fact and law, and explain that, contrary to media reports, it does not provide the Secretary of Defense with wide discretion. Rather, the memo mandates discrimination against transgender Americans while affording limited discretion to the Secretary only with respect to certain details of the implementation process.

In this report, experts from the Palm Center explain the discrimination that the President’s memo requires; the limited discretion that the Defense Secretary is afforded concerning implementation; and the inaccuracies that inform the President’s analysis. Read more

The report was prepared by:

Professor Alan Bishop, U.S. Military Academy (Retired) * Professor Martin L. Cook, U.S. Naval War College (Emeritus)* Professor J. Carl Ficarrotta, U.S. Air Force Academy (Retired)* Professor George R. Lucas, Naval Postgraduate School* Professor Tammy S. Schultz, U.S. Marine Corps War College*