Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will soon issue a final decision on the ban that prevents transgender individuals from serving in the military.
Carter announced in July 2015 that the Department of Defense would allow transgender individuals to serve in the military in early 2016, following a six-month review period. That review period was intended to give military services time to prepare for integration, and to look at projected impact of the switch, The Washington Blade reports.
“The transgender working group appointed by the secretary of defense will conclude its deliberations by the end of January and present its findings and recommendations directly to the secretary soon thereafter,” Pentagon spokesman Matthew Allen told The Washington Blade Thursday. “The secretary will take whatever time he needs to analyze, evaluate, and discuss the Working Group’s findings with his immediate staff and the senior leadership of the department. We do, however, anticipate a final decision from the secretary sometime in the spring.”
In the interim period, the services have made it almost impossible to remove transgender troops currently serving in violation of regulations. Authority to remove these individuals has been elevated to virtually the highest levels of command.
The likely outcome is that the ban will be lifted, as the working group established by Carter set out with the assumption that “transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”
Word from the Pentagon was well-received by the American Military Partner Association, a group representing LGBT members in the military.
“Our transgender service members and their families are eagerly waiting for a decision from the Secretary of Defense,” said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack in a statement. “For far too long, transgender service members have been forced to serve in silence. It is our urgent hope that Secretary Carter will make the right decision, finally lift the outdated ban, and allow our transgender troops to serve authentically.”
Republicans have remained almost completely silent on the issue, with the exception of GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Inhofe asked which bathroom transgender servicemembers would use. Inhofe also added that he doesn’t immediately intend to frustrate the Pentagon’s potential plans to integrate transgender individuals into the military.
GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz also said in October 2015 that he opposed the idea of transgender servicemembers, adding, “We shouldn’t view the military as a cauldron for social experiments.”
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