Pentagon To Seek Delay in Transgender Enlistments

The Associated Press reports:

Military chiefs will seek a six-month delay before letting transgender people enlist in their services, officials said Friday. After meetings this week, the service leaders hammered out an agreement that rejected Army and Air Force requests for a two-year wait and reflected broader concerns that a longer delay would trigger criticism on Capitol Hill, officials familiar with the talks told The Associated Press.

The new request for a delay will go to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for a final decision, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the internal deliberations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Transgender servicemembers have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban, declaring it the right thing to do. Since Oct. 1, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.

But Carter also gave the services until July 1 to develop policies to allow people already identifying as transgender to newly join the military, if they meet physical, medical and other standards, and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months. The military chiefs had said they needed time to study the issue and its effects on the readiness of the force before taking that step.

The Human Rights Campaign reacts:

“Each day that passes without implementing the final piece of this important policy harms our military readiness and restricts the Armed Forces ability to recruit the best and the brightest,” said Stephen Peters, HRC National Press Secretary and Marine veteran discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

“There are thousands of transgender service members openly and proudly serving our nation today, and as they’ve proven time and time again, what matters is the ability to get the job done — not their gender identity. We’re disappointed that a further delay is under consideration and urge Secretary Mattis to move forward expeditiously in implementing this recruitment policy which will strengthen our forces by allowing anyone who is qualified and willing to serve our nation.”