Pentagon officials are considering a pilot program that would allow transgender troops to take a leave of absence as they undergo hormone therapy, according to documents obtained by USA Today. The ban on transgender troops is set to end May 27th, according to the documents.
The plan being considered would allow transgender troops under medical treatment to take a sabbatical from service and return to the ranks “after they have made their transition to the other gender,” according to USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook, who first reported on the memo.
The report was leaked less than two months after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the creation of a working group that would consider the impact on the military if trans troops serve openly.
“The memo details a list of issues surrounding the open service of transgender troops, including medical treatment, housing, uniforms and physical fitness standards,” Brook wrote in his report.
There are an estimated 12,800 transgender people who serve in the military, according to an analysis by Dr. Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center, a think tank that studies LGBT troops and the military. Belkin’s analysis was published in the New England Journal of Medicine two weeks ago.
Currently the Defense Department’s medical standards declare transgender people to have a “psychosexual condition” and boxes them in with voyeurists and exhibitionists. Due to the medical standards, Veterans Affairs currently can not provide the estimated 12,800 trans service members transition therapy.
Belkin estimates that 188 military personnel will require transition-related care each year. He concluded that the cost of providing transition-related healthcare for trans service members “will be minimal after the Pentagon lifts its ban.”
The Pentagon has not decided whether transgender troops being treated are eligible for deployment to war zones, according to the memo.