Let’s not hand “Mad Dog” a trans pride flag just yet.
Though many outlets, including NPR and USA Today, reported that General James Mattis stalled Trump’s transgender military ban, a closer inspection of Mattis’s statement shows that it reflects, not refutes, the original language of Trump’s declaration.
The second sentence of Mattis’s declaration says that it “will carry out the president’s policy direction,” and that it will develop a study and implementation plan “as directed.”
In a statement to INTO, Department of Defense spokesperson Paul Haverstick confirmed that the statement was coordinated with the White House.
“The President gave a directive and the Secretary of Defense is implementing it exactly as he would any other directive- through careful research and consultation with experts who can best advise the on the way to move forward,” Haverstick said.
The directive to study the effect of transgender people openly serving in the military comes directly from Trump himself. In the president’s original statement on transgender military service, he says Mattis will “submit to me a plan for implementing both the general policy and the specific directives” in his memo.
As ThinkProgress points out, Trump’s original memo also stated that his memo will be implemented in stages, as well. The earliest of those stages came on January 1, 2018, almost four months after the memo’s release.
In a statement to Towleroad, Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights called headlines suggesting Mattis’s heart had grown three sizes when it comes to trans troops “grossly misleading.”
“Secretary Mattis did not make a decision to “buy time” or to “freeze” the current policy,” Minter said. “There is nothing new at all here, and suggesting otherwise is terribly misleading.”
Turns out, most of Mattis’s rubber-stamping bureaucratese amounts to little more than saying “Good game” and slapping Trump on his butt.