U.S. Military Leaders Want Transgender Enlistment Delayed 6 Months
Even though transgender individuals and others in the LGBTQ community have come along way and have gained the respect of many in this country, there appears to still be a dark cloud of judgment still lingering over them.
United States military chiefs announced this week that they intend to place a six-month hold on their ability to enlist.
The United States Army and Air-force initially wanted a two-year wait but service leader were concerned that delaying longer than six months would raise concerns of those on Capitol Hill. This week the service leaders opted for six months to avoid criticism.
Officials who were not allowed to discuss the internal deliberations publicly confirmed the request to us this week but added that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will make the final decision on the delay request.
Former Defense Secretary under the Obama administration, Ash Carter ended the ban last year allowing transgenders service members to openly serve in the military. Carter said at that time that it was the right thing to do.
Until now, transgender military personnel have been able to receive services such as changing their gender identification in the pentagon personnel system and receiving medical care.
Secretary Carter also wanted more policies developed to help transgender individuals become service members but with strict guidelines that included their being able to meet physical and medical standards, and if they identified as transgender for 18 months.
Current top military officials said they needed time to analyze the issue and its effect of what would be a hard change to the U.S. military force.
Military officials said this week that the four military services would need those six months to gauge the effect on service members who are already transgender, and to see if they are having any problems and how to solve those problems if necessary.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work also met with the Chiefs of the Navy, Army, Marines and Air force on the matter. officials confirmed.
Pentagon spokesperson, Dana White declined to give information on the ongoing meetings with military chiefs but said recommendation is expected.
“Its been a very deliberative process,” she said. ” The Deputy Secretary of Defense has not submitted a recommendation to the Secretary yet and so no decision has been made.”
Stephen Peters, the spokesman for the non-profit group, Human Rights Campaign, said the group is disappointed with the delays.
“Each day that passes without implementing the final piece of this important policy harms our military readiness and restrict the Armed Forces’ to recruit the best and the brightest,” said Peters, a Marine Veteran.
he added that there are thousands of transgender service members who are open and proud of serving the United States. He said it is obvious it is not about gender identity but the ability to get the job done.
Military officials said the four service branches would be effected differently and that the biggest challenge would be with infantry.
They want recruiters to be able to succeed in enlisting potential members while the services maintain the best standards for entry.
Currently, the military has many ways to count the number of transgender individuals currently serving. However, the Pentagon has refused to release the data on it.
Army, the National Guard and Reserves officials said 42 service members have been approved to change their identity in the system and 40 more are in the process of transition while Navy officials said that there are about 160 members who are in the process.
Air Force officials declined to release the numbers of genders transitioning.
The process can include counseling, hormone treatment or gender reassignment surgery. Only a small number of service members in the U.S. Marines were willing to come forward to have medical care for gender transitioning.
The major concerns in expediting the policies for transgender service members have been medical and other issues that could possibly delay deployment as well as their ability to meet physical or other standards for the job.
Military leaders also want to know if current transgender members are being discriminated against or if they have disciplinary problems.
250 service members have already transitioned or are in the process of transitioning to their preferred gender all through the Pentagon system.
A study by the Rand Group showed that there are between 2500 and 7000 transgender individuals in active military and 1500 to 4000 in the Reserves.
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