According to “multiple sources,” the Pentagon is working to delay the July 1 deadline to fully implement the Obama-initiated policy that one year ago lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military.
“A controversial Pentagon directive that would allow transgender men and women to join the military beginning this summer now faces indefinite delay as senior leaders within each of the services voice lingering concerns about the Obama-era policy intended to end discrimination, but dismissed by critics as social experimentation,” the Military Times reported on Friday.
President Donald Trump has not continued the push for transgender rights and in February reversed former President Barack Obama’s guidance to public schools to allow students to use restrooms that match their gender identity rather than their biological sex.
The Military Times notes, “plenty in the ranks and inside the Pentagon have questioned the practicality of expending such effort to accommodate a comparatively small demographic.”
Those pushing for transgender military personnel said the Trump administration could put a halt to the initiative by not implementing it.
“It’s unclear how Defense Secretary Jim Mattis eventually will rule on the matter, though in the past he has cast doubt on whether such moves ultimately advance the military’s principal national security objectives,” the Military Times reported.
In May, USA Today obtained a memo distributed by Mattis’s deputy that sought feedback on the policy and impending deadline.
“The May 8 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work instructs the service secretaries and chiefs of the armed services to assess the military’s readiness to begin accepting transgender applicants on July 1, 2017,” USA Today reported, noting that the deadline to respond was May 31.
“The memo also contains language that one of the architects of the transgender policy interprets as an opportunity for the services to back out of recruiting transgender troops by raising the issue of how they could affect readiness for combat,” the report added.
The Military Times reported that Pentagon Spokesman Army Lt. Col. Myles Caggins would not address the prospect for delaying transgender accessions, saying only that there has been no change to existing military policy allowing transgender troops already serving to do so openly.
“And,” he added, “just like their fellow service members, [they may] receive all medically necessary care.”
“The Army and the Marine Corps have been most vocal in advocating for a delay, according to one military official who, like others, spoke with Military Times on the condition of anonymity because the matter remains predecisional and extremely sensitive,” the report notes. “No firm decisions have been reached, the official added, and senior leaders will continue to discuss the matter with Mattis’s office as the deadline draws near.”
According to the Defense Department, as many as 7,000 transgender troops serve in the active-duty force of 1.3 million.
“A leading LGBT advocacy group called any delay ‘unacceptable,'” the Military Times reported. “In a statement, Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, said it would send a ‘deeply alarming signal’ from the Trump administration.”
“Thousands of transgender service members are openly and proudly serving our nation today,” the statement reads, “and there is no reason not to move forward with the timeline as planned now for nearly a year. Any applicant, regardless of gender identity, who is qualified and willing to serve should be allowed to do so.”
The Military Times reported that, under Trump and Mattis, other changes have quietly taken place, including two transgender cadets set to graduate from the Army and Air Force military academies who were told they would not receive commissions and be allowed to serve on active duty.
In recent months, the Pentagon rolled backed protections concerning bathroom and locker room access for transgender students attending Defense Department schools.
The Center for Military Readiness published on Thursday its wish list for what the Trump administration should do to eliminate political correctness in military policy:
A new Conservative Action Project (CAP) “Memo for the Movement,” signed by more than 85 distinguished organization leaders and individuals, pushed back against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender) activism aimed at the Department of Defense:
The memo asks the administration to take three important steps toward the goal of eliminating political correctness in the military:
•Discontinue “LGBT Pride” events in June in the White House and Pentagon
•Review and revoke at least two Obama-era directives forcing military personnel to approve or participate in controversial sex-change “transition” treatments; and
•Appoint officials for high-level Pentagon positions who assign highest priority to mission readiness and combat lethality, not political correctness in the military.
As stated in the Memo for the Movement, “The process of strengthening our military will not succeed if military service personnel have to contend with problematic military/social policies imposed by the Obama Administration – policies that actually impede mission readiness, command proficiency, and combat effectiveness.”