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Trump Blocks New Transgender Troops, Leaves Existing Service Members' Fate Up to Mattis

President Donald Trump signed a directive on Friday that will block transgender individuals from joining the military, the New York Times reports. The announcement comes one month after Trump first declared on Twitter that transgender troops would no longer be allowed to serve "in any capacity," a statement that took even the Pentagon by surprise.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis will decide whether or not the transgender individuals already serving will be allowed to remain in the armed forces, though the military will no longer pay for service members' sex re-assignment surgeries, according to a White House official. That's not to say re-assignment surgeries were eating into the military budget: A 2016 study from the RAND Corporation found that covering transition-related health care for active, transgender personnel would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million—between 0.04 percent and 0.13 percent of the military’s active-service health-care budget.

Mattis now has six months to implement Trump's new directive, and is reportedly considering the effect of transgender troops on the military's readiness and budget.

That same RAND study found trans service members would have "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness" of a military unit.