NY Times Editorial Board: SecDef Needs To Allow Transgenders In Military Post-Haste

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The New York Times editorial board wrote an opinion piece Tuesday morning urging Defense Secretary Ash Carter to quit stalling and remove the military’s transgender ban while the Obama administration is still in play.

Carter announced in July, 2015, the Pentagon intended to reverse the ban on transgenders serving openly in the military to keep top-tier talent, but said a review of about six months was necessary to study integration efforts. That period has come and gone and the ban is still in effect, which The New York Times editorial board considers unacceptable.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the window for progressive change is closing. The next administration may completely halt the transgender integration program.

For The New York Times, this is precisely why Carter should “complete this process in a matter of weeks so transgender troops can start serving openly while he is in office.”

But the task force Carter appointed to study integration has stalled, mostly because of stringent disagreement among officials. For example, it’s unclear what regulations should apply to assess fitness criteria in the event of a transition. Some officials have also argued troops who switch genders soon after joining the military should be discharged. The New York Times considers this latter proposal to be noxious.

Personal hygiene, uniforms, proper pronoun use and which bathrooms transgender individuals can use have added to the regulatory conundrum.

None of these reasons justify not immediately opening up the military to transgenders, according to The New York Times.

“If the changes are not made expeditiously, Mr. Carter runs the risk of leaving office with an unfulfilled promise to a small, but important, segment of Americans who want to continue serving their country honorably,” the editorial board wrote.

“That would be unfair to them, squander investments the military has made in highly skilled personnel and tarnish the legacy of a defense secretary who has done much to make the Pentagon a more inclusive and attractive employer,” the board continued.

While this review is underway, transgenders are essentially protected from discharge because authority for discharge has been elevated to the highest levels across the different branches of the military, and those officials are loyal to the progressive objectives of the Obama administration.

There are still some dissenting voices outside of the military itself to transgender inclusion, but not many. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, has argued placing transgendered individuals in the military is “putting an extra burden on men and women in the military that they certainly don’t need and they don’t deserve.”

Additionally, if the military is willing to front the cost for full transition surgeries, this in turn will incentivize more transgenders to join the military.

“If you know the military has to pay all of these medical benefits, then it becomes like a magnet,” Donnelly said in a 2014 radio interview. “Well, the military is not there to be a magnet for people who have personal problems or medical problems or are sexually confused or whatever, it’s there to defend the country.”

Certainly, virtually no one in Congress has pushed back in the slightest against Carter’s proposal, which means the only opposition the administration faces is itself and the clock.

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