The Pentagon is planning to lift its ban on transgender service members by July 1. The repeal seen as a controversial decision, will allow transgender troops serve openly after almost 12 months of internal wrangling.
As USA Today reports, top officials will meet Monday to finalize details, and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work will endorse it by Wednesday.
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A final approval is expected from the office of the Defense Secretary Friday before an announcement is expected to be made on the eve of the Fourth of July. According to an anonymous source, all branches of the armed services will be given a one-year grace period to put into action the new polices because it will affect housing, recruiting, and the uniforms of transgender troops, among other things.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke last year about the lifting of the ban, which affected a small fraction of the estimated 1.3 million active duty members, but said it needed to be done gradually so as not to have an “adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness.” Lawmakers questioned Carter’s position, asking if an “honest and balanced assessment” could really be made on the basis of “military readiness, morale and good order and discipline.”
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A Texas Republican, Mac Thornberry, who presides over the Armed Services Committee, requested information from the Pentagon last year about the imports of canceling the ban. Some of the things he asked included the following.
“What would be the projected cost of changing the transgender service policy? To what extent would the military barracks, ship berths, gym shower facilities, latrines and other facilities have to be modified to accommodate personnel in various stages of transition and what would be the projected cost of these modifications?”
He also wanted to know how far the apex armed forces body was willing to go towards providing medical treatment and assistance for transgender troops, including cross-hormone therapy, behavioral health treatment, voice therapy, gender or cosmetic reassignment surgery, and more. Pentagon officials had responded to the queries, saying that the first focus of the repeal of the ban was to deduce if it affected the military’s readiness for war or combat.
Even though officials are not allowed to speak publicly about the ban, there has been plenty of resistance to it. A bone of contention remains how long transgender officers would be allowed to serve before being penciled down to receive cross-gender medical treatment. A RAND report on transgender troops that was commissioned by the Pentagon estimated that fewer than 65 transgender service members sought treatment annually. Many experts have disputed these numbers.
Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King who believes she is the first openly transgender member of the infantry, said her colleagues were supportive of the initiative and that she had purchased a female dress and could not wait to put it on. King said she supported the U.S. leadership and believed they were taking the right step in the right direction.
Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland, a transgender airman, said he was always sure that the ban would be reviewed, deeming it not a matter of if the policy was going to change, but when it was going to change. He added that there were bigger problems to deal with and a full gender inclusion would help the American military meet them all head-on.
The ban lifting on transgenders serving in branches of the armed forces is not the only thing on the cards for the military. They are also on the verge of a historic transition that will see women serve in all combat roles as their male counterparts.
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