The Pentagon is not “specifically” considering lifting the policy barring transgender people from serving openly in the military, said a Department of Defense (DoD) spokesman.
Rather, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, the spokesman, said in a statement provided to Breitbart News that the Pentagon is reviewing the DoD’s “medical accession policy,” which prohibits transgender persons from enlisting or being commissioned, among other things.
Christensen declared that the department’s ongoing review is not “specifically” addressing the DoD’s transgender policy.
“The review will cover 26 systems of the human body (e.g., Neurologic, Vision, Learning, Psychological and Behavioral),” he explained. “We routinely review our policies to make sure they are accurate, up-to-date and reflect any necessary changes since the Department’s last policy review,” which took place in 2011.
“DoD regulations don’t allow accession of transgender individuals into the U.S. military, based upon medical standards for military service,” also said Christensen, later adding, “Military Service guidelines require separation actions be initiated for transgender Service members serving in the U.S. military, based upon medical concerns.”
The ongoing “accession policy” review started in February and could take up to 18 months.
There is a renewed push in Congress to lift the Pentagon policy that prohibits transgender people from openly serving in the military, The Hill reports.
Last week, a coalition of 20 Democrat lawmakers from the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, urging him terminate the department’s “outdated and discriminatory directives and regulations to permit transgender individuals to serve openly in the U.S. military.”
“People should be evaluated on performance, not gender,” said Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) in a statement, The Hill notes. Rep. Honda, who led the group of lawmakers who signed the letter, has a transgender granddaughter.
A spokesperson for Rep. Honda said that although no Republicans signed the letter, there was some interest among them to do so. The Pentagon has not responded to the letter.
Carter, in February, said that he is “very open-minded” about transgender people serving the military “provided they can do what we need them to do for us.”
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said the president supports Carter’s position.
“The president agrees with the sentiment that all Americans who are qualified to serve should be able to serve,” Earnest told reporters.
Currently, a DoD regulation prohibits transgender individuals from openly serving in the military. The Pentagon has the power to change that policy without congressional approval given that it is a regulation, not a law.
Breitbart News asked that Pentagon if the department was considering or planning to make changes to the transgender regulation.
“I can confirm for you that there is no on-going review to specifically address the Department’s transgender policy,” responded Cmrd. Christensen in a statement.
However, he added, back in February, the DoD “began a routine, periodic review of the Department’s medical accession policy,” which prohibits the accession of transgender persons into the U.S. armed forces based on medical grounds.
The Hill notes that the Republican-led Congress is likely to resist a legislative push to end the ban on transgenders in the military.
According to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the decision should be left up to the Pentagon.
The DoD “needs to look at a variety of policies. As long as they look at it objectively, based on what’s best for the security interests of the country, then we’ll oversee or review what they do,” the House panel chairman told The Hill.
“When there’s a sense that there’s some extraneous social or political agenda… people get concerned,” he added.
Meanwhile John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, echoed his counterpart in the House, telling The Hill, “The administration policy should always be a basis for our discussion.