The heads of U.S. military branches are trying to delay a July 1 deadline for allowing transgender people to join the military, citing a need to “study the issue.”
Last year, an order by former Defense Secretary Ash
the military’s ban on transgender people serving openly gave the Pentagon
until July to allow enlistment as long as aspiring service members had been
stable in their identified genders for 18 months. If military bosses have their
way, that deadline would
be extended by at least six months, the Associated Press reported.
On Friday, military leaders said they had rejected a request
by the Army and the Air Force to extend the delay by up to two years. Defense
Secretary Jim Mattis will make the final decision.
According to the AP, the delay “would give the four military
services time to gauge if currently serving transgender troops are facing
problems and what necessary changes the military bases might have to make.”
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told a Senate
committee that there are issues “some of the service chiefs believe need to be
resolved before we move forward.”
Military leaders also want to extend the requirement that
gender identities be “stable” from 18 to 24 months.
While the military’s reasoning for the delays included
medical issues, readiness, possible discrimination, and discipline, others say
top brass should stick to Carter’s original deadline.
“Each day that passes without implementing the final piece
of this important policy harms our military readiness and restricts the Armed
Forces’ ability to recruit the best and the brightest,” Human Rights Campaign spokesman
and Marine veteran Stephen Peters told the AP.
While an accurate number of transgender people currently serving in the military is unknown, that number is believed to be several thousand. A RAND study on the issue determined that foreign military experiences showed “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”