The U.S. military is weighing whether it will conduct or fund gender transition surgery and treatment once the ban on open service by transgender people is rescinded.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter issued two directives, bringing the Pentagon closer to lifting the Department of Defense (DoD) policy barring transgender persons from wearing the uniform.
An unnamed senior defense official told the Associated Press (AP) that the ultimate goal is to lift the ban.
“Some of the key concerns involved in the repeal of the ban on transgender individuals include whether the military would conduct or pay for the medical costs, surgeries and other treatment associated with any gender transition, as well as which physical training or testing standards transgender individuals would be required to meet during different stages of their transition,” notes AP.
Unnamed defense officials told AP that “the military also wants time to tackle questions about where transgender troops would be housed, what uniforms they would wear, what berthing they would have on ships, which bathrooms they would use and whether their presence would affect the ability of small units to work well together.”
Carter announced that the DoD will create a working group to study, over the next six months, the implications that allowing transgenders to serve openly in the military will have on policy and readiness.
“The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions,” said Carter in a statement issued Monday.
“The working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified,” he added. “Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.”
Officials told AP told that the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force are not opposed to Carter’s plan.
“They said the military leaders asked for time to figure out health care, housing and other questions and also to provide information and training to the troops to insure a smooth transition,” reports AP.
Carter said the working group, composed of military and civilian personnel representing all the military services and Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be led by his personnel undersecretary Brad Carson and will report to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.
“At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite,” said the Pentagon chief. “Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.”
A routine review of the medical standards required for military service is already underway. A Pentagon spokesman told Breitbart News that the study would not “specifically address the Department’s transgender policy.”
Instead, he said the transgender policy would be one of many issues reviewed.
“Transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms,” said Carter.
Some surveys have estimated that as many as 15,000 transgender persons serve in the active duty military and reserves.