Trans troops won’t be able to join the US Military for another six months
Transgender people won’t be able to enlist in the US Military for at least another six months.
Defense Secretary James Mattis approved a proposed six month extension to the deadline to allow trans people to sign up.
The military had been set a 1 July deadline to implement changes necessary to allow trans people to join.
Mattis in a memo reported by the Washington Post states that he needed more time to make a final decision on whether the new policy should go ahead.
He said the delay “in no way presupposes an outcome”.
A spokesperson for the Pentagon, Dana White, said the delay will allow the military to “review their accession plans and provide input on the impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces.”
They had been set a deadline of 1 July to bring in the policy announced back in 2016 meaning trans people could serve openly in the military.
Requests for a delay were put into the Pentagon earlier this year.
“Each day that passes without the policy in place restricts the armed forces’ ability to recruit the best and the brightest, regardless of gender identity,” said Human Rights Campaign spokesman Stephen Peters in a statement.
Trans troops have been able to receive healthcare benefits and formally begin gender transition since 1 October.
Former defense secretary Ash Carter had set 1 July as the deadline for troops meeting physical standards and medical standards if they have lived in their gender identity for 18 months.
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“The Secretary of Defense directed the military departments to assess their readiness to access transgender applicants into the military,” said Army Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, a Pentagon spokesman earlier this year.
“The assessment is narrowly focused on readiness to access transgender applicants, not on gender transition by currently serving Service members.”
In June of last year, President Obama asked the Pentagon to lift its long-held ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.
Obama’s ruling meant, in theory, that transgender soldiers would be afforded the same healthcare coverage as other soldiers – including, if required, hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.
The Department of Defense was given until July 1st of this year to implement the policy, with LGBT advocates hopeful that transgender soldiers would be able to serve openly in just less than a month.
Last month, Defense Secretary Mattis distributed a carefully worded memo saying that Obama’s pro-trans plans would proceed “unless they cause readiness problems that could lessen our ability to fight, survive, and win on the battlefield”.