Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is assembling a panel of experts to discuss the matter of openly transgender individuals already serving in the US military, the AP reports. President Trump last Friday directed the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military, but he gave Mattis the authority to decide on those already serving. Mattis says in a statement released Tuesday that the Pentagon, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, will develop a plan to "promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion." He adds that panel members "will bring mature experience, most notably in combat and deployed operations, and seasoned judgment to this task."
More than 140 House Democrats have sent a letter to Trump calling on him to reconsider his ban, adds the AP. The lawmakers argued there is no place for discrimination in the military or anywhere else in society. In the letter released Tuesday, they said enforcing the ban could mean discharging active duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, and Air Force members who are serving honorably. The White House had said Friday that transgender people would be allowed to continue serving until Mattis had completed his analysis. (Read more transgender stories.)