Pentagon officials told The Associated Press on Monday that the military is currently finalizing plans to remove the ban on transgendered servicemembers.
An official announcement from the Department of Defense is expected later this week. The ban won’t be lifted immediately. Instead, the Pentagon plans to give all services approximately 6 months to prepare for the major shift, The Associated Press reports.
From here until the six-month period is over, it is unlikely that any transgendered personnel serving will be removed. Any removal requests will now have to go through the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Brad Carson.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has instructed Carson to form a working group to discuss thorny legal and administration issues which may arise from integrating transgenders, who identify as a different gender from the one assigned at birth, into the military. At this point, it is unclear exactly which physical test standards would apply in the case of gender transition from male-to-female, or vice-versa. Also under study are medical problems, namely whether the military intends to pay for gender transition surgery.
While the intention is to remove the ban, if at the end of the 6-month period, insurmountable obstacles present themselves, the ban has a slim chance of remaining.
Some transgender advocates predicted the change in advance. In June, Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, told The Hill that given the American Medical Association’s confirmation that no medically valid reason exists to keep transgenders out of the military, Carter will almost certainly fall in line.
The timing, however, is a matter of interest. Many were waiting for the expected 12-18 month health policy review period, but it seems as though the Pentagon is eager to speed up the pace of reform.
Military service heads appear to be behind the move, though they did request the transition period. Both the Navy and Army have supported policies to make it much more difficult to discharge transgenders. (RELATED: Navy Wants To Make It Harder To Discharge Transgendered Sailors)
“We are thrilled the Department of Defense will finally be taking the necessary steps to allow our transgender service members to serve openly and honestly,” said The American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack, in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We look forward in anticipation to the announcement this week and being able to review the process and implementation.”
AMPA issued a report earlier this year arguing that “No one should be forced to choose between defending the country they love and being true to their authentic self.”
The new shift follows on the heels of the Supreme Court decision which extended the right for same-sex couples to marry across the U.S.
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