President Barack Obama’s Department of Defense (DOD) is expected to lift the ban on transgender people openly serving in the U.S. military on July 1, reports USA Today, citing unnamed defense officials.
The report suggests that that service members will be eligible for gender transition surgery once DOD regulation is changed.
“Several issues relating to repeal of the ban have proven to be contentious, according to officials familiar with the review but not authorized to speak publicly about it,” notes USA Today. “One sticking point has been how long transgender service members would have to serve before being eligible for medical treatment to transition to the other gender.”
A DOD regulation prohibits transgender individuals from openly serving in the military.
However, Carter has the power to change that policy without congressional approval because it is a regulation, not a law.
Soon after assuming his current post as secretary of defense nearly a year ago, Ash Carter, indicated that he was open to allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military as long as they can do what is required of them.
On July 13, 2015, Carter announced that the ban, which reportedly affects a fraction of the military’s 1.2 million active duty members, would be rescinded unless a review showed that doing so would have “adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness.”
Citing a DOD official who spoke on condition of anonymity, USA Today reports that “top personnel officials plan to meet as early as Monday to finalize details of the plan, and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work could sign off on it by Wednesday…Final approval would come from Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and the announcement will be on the eve of the Fourth of July weekend.”
One official told the newspaper, “The plan would direct each branch of the armed services over a one-year period to implement new policies affecting recruiting, housing and uniforms for transgender troops.”
Last year, the U.S. military weighed whether it would conduct or fund gender transition surgery and treatment once the ban on open service by transgender people is lifted.
The New York Times (NYT) recently obtained a copy of a Pentagon-commissioned RAND Corporation study on transgender service that Secretary of Defense Carter has refused to make public. It found that nearly 2,500 of the 1.2 million active-duty service members in the military are transgender and that 65 would seek to transition to the other gender each year.
“The military disqualifies transgender troops for medical reasons,” notes USA Today. “The Pentagon has not tracked the number of troops dismissed under the policy.”
Republicans in Congress have voiced opposition to repealing the ban, while Democrats have encouraged the move.
“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,” reported the Associated Press (AP) in July 2015.
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.”
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