The Army and Marine Corps are asking top Pentagon officials for a delay of up to two years in bringing transgender recruits into the military.
Under the Obama administration, the services were given a deadline of July 1 to fully develop policies that would permit transgender recruits to join up, but now those same services are asking for a long delay.
The Army in particular is concerned about the ability of transgenders to deploy to war zones while receiving transition treatments, three government officials told USA Today. The Navy, on the other hand, is prepared to implement Obama administration policy for accepting transgender recruits on July 1.
Obama administration policies still in play from June 2016 allow transgenders already in the military to serve, but Secretary of Defense James Mattis has yet to make a decision on the status of new transgender recruits, in effect ignoring a lot of advocacy from pro-LGBT groups. These groups fear the deadline for acceptance could be pushed back indefinitely. Several retired generals have also asked Mattis not to delay in accepting transgender recruits.
Conservative leaders, however, signed a memo on May 16, urging Mattis to suspend and subsequently rescind policies allowing transgenders to serve in the military and also to pull funding for LGBT events, as they don’t strengthen military readiness.
“President Trump has mandated that his Administration restore the strength of our military,” conservative leaders argued. “We, and most Americans appreciate the steps taken to reinstate the priorities Secretary of Defense (James) Mattis noted during his confirmation hearing: mission readiness, command proficiency, and combat effectiveness.”
“The process of strengthening our military will not succeed, however, if military service personnel have to contend with problematic military/social policies imposed by the Obama Administration – policies that actually impede mission readiness, command proficiency, and combat effectiveness,” the letter continued.
In the meantime, LGBT issues in other arenas are moving along at a steady pace in the military, due to Obama administration holdovers in the Pentagon, specifically Anthony M. Kurta, who is currently performing the duties of the under secretary for personnel and readiness. Kurta issued a LGBT Pride event announcement on June 2, which encourages LGBT events during duty hours.