02 July, 2017
Defense Secretary James Mattis has agreed to a request from military service chiefs for a six-month delay in allowing openly transgender people to enlist into the USA armed forces, according to the Associated Press.
A Mattis memo obtained by The Associated Press says he wanted to give the services time to insure the change won't affect the readiness and lethality of the force.
Carter said he met with some transgender service members during the review process, and found they felt valued by peers and commanders "in most cases", while some felt frustrated by a "lack of clear guidelines" for commanders. However, unlike the repealed statutory ban that prohibited lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from serving openly (known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"), the ban on transgender military service was regulatory and only required action by the Secretary of Defense.
The decision to delay the plan for six months was made on the eve of a deadline set by Mattis's predecessor, Ashton Carter, during Barack Obama's administration.
Advocates of allowing transgender people to join the military criticized Mattis' decision to delay implementation of such a policy. The sponsor, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, said she would wait to see what the Pentagon did before moving forward with her provision.
The decision will nearly certainly prove unpopular with advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, who already had waited through a lengthy Pentagon view process that concluded past year. 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.
"The assessment is narrowly focused on readiness to access transgender applicants, not on gender transition by now serving Service members". They described the biggest challenge as the infantry.
Key concerns include whether now enlisted troops have had medical or other issues that cause delays or problems with their ability to deploy or meet physical or other standards for their jobs.
The officials were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. In addition, the military was discharging highly trained and talented transgender service members on the basis of regulations that were almost forty years out of date.
The policy signed a year ago said that "not later than 1 July 2017", the Pentagon would update its medical standards to account for people who have a history of gender dysphoria, the medical term for wanting to transition gender.
RAND Corp. helped the DoD with the study and estimated there are 2,500 transgender service members now on active duty and 1,500 in the reserves.