Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis refuses to answer questions about new transgender ban

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (Photo by Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has refused to answer any questions about the ban on transgender troops.

This week the White House released a policy document detailing full plans for a ban on trans troops in the US military.

The document justified it with a number of spurious claims, citing transgender people’s “high rates of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders” and “extremely high rates of suicidal ideation and other comorbidities”, before claiming that “transition-related treatment is also proving to be disproportionately costly”.

It has been alleged that Vice President Mike Pence played a leading role in the creation of this report, overruling objections from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who privately advocated for transgender service.

At a press conference yesterday, Mattis refused to answer any questions about the report.

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Questioned by reporters at a joint meeting with Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs minister, Mattis said: “We are out to build the most lethal service right now. Because these are matters under litigation, I’m not going to discuss them further.”

When reporters pressed him for a response, he said: “I think the statements stand on their own right now, and I don’t need to waste our guests’ time with reiterating what’s already down there.”

A string of courts have issued injunctions blocking the policy from coming into effect.

The White House issued a new policy document on the issue late last week, producing a lengthy report on how the ban would be imposed if the court action is defeated.

It has since been alleged that anti-LGBT lobbyists had a hidden hand in drafting the report – alongside the Vice President Mike Pence.

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Slate report has alleged that “Vice President Mike Pence played a leading role in the creation of this report”, and that he overruled objections from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who privately advocated for transgender service,

Slate alleges that two anti-LGBT activists, Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, helped Pence draft the report.

ThinkProgress also reported on allegations Pence was involved, claiming: “Though it bears Mattis’ signature, the report released Friday appears to reflect the findings of Pence’s working group and not the committee report that Mattis submitted to Trump last month.

“Mattis’ original document is not currently publicly available, but it was widely reported that Mattis favored an inclusive approach that resembled what had originally been proposed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter under President Obama in 2016.”

The involvement of Mr Perkins and Mr Anderson has led to criticism due to their extreme beliefs about LGBT people.

Mr Perkins has made a number of extremely disturbing claims about gay people in the past, insisting Christians are “going to find ourselves being loaded in cattle cars like it was when the Nazis took over before we realize we are in such terrible danger”.

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump speaks about the spending bill during a press conference in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House on March 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)


He claims that Christians are being sent to “camps”, and that soon gays are “going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians”.

The SPLC notes he compared gays to paedophiles, saying: “While activists like to claim that paedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. It is a homosexual problem.”

Mr Perkins has also claimed that letting gay people serve in the Boy Scouts will increase the risk of child molestation.

Despite insisting he is simply an activist for ‘religious freedom’, Mr Perkins simultaneously says that clergy who support gay rights don’t deserve “true religious freedom”.

He also branded the ‘It Gets Better’ anti-bullying campaign “disgusting”, saying: “It’s part of a concerted effort to recruit [kids] into that lifestyle.”

Ahead of the Supreme Court court ruling in favour of equal marriage, Mr Perkins threatened a “revolution” in the United States.

Mr Anderson, meanwhile, has advocated for people who want to ‘cure’ themselves of homosexuality.

He blamed the TV show Glee for unleashing homosexuality on America, claiming: “We should be as concerned about what Glee has done to corrupt a young generation as we are about anything the [Supreme] Court has done.”

HRC President Chad Griffin said: “There is simply no way to spin it, the Trump-Pence Administration is going all in on its discriminatory, unconstitutional and despicable ban on transgender troops.

“Donald Trump and Mike Pence are pushing their extreme anti-transgender prejudices onto the military over the overwhelming objections of bipartisan officials, national security leaders and the American public. We will never stop fighting this discriminatory policy until every current and future transgender service member is treated equally and respected fully for their bravery.”

HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride said: “The Trump-Pence Administration continues to double down on its cruel and unconstitutional ban on transgender troops.

“From the first impulsive tweet, this policy has clearly been driven by an extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda rather than what is in the best interests of our troops and national security. Transgender people are enlisting and serving with distinction right now, and there is no legitimate reason to change that.

“Moreover, releasing this news under cover of darkness late on a Friday night means thousands of transgender troops will wake up tomorrow with their lives turned upside down. This couldn’t be more cowardly or wrong.”