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Pentagon Delays New Transgender-Inclusive Recruitment Policy by Six Months

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has delayed a plan approved by the Obama administration a year ago to begin allowing transgender recruits to join the US military, the Pentagon said Friday night, providing the Joint Chiefs of Staff with a six-month reprieve that they requested.”We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality”, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in the memo.Defense Secretary James Mattis has agreed to a request from military service chiefs for a six-month delay in allowing openly transgender people to enlist into the US armed forces, according to the Associated Press.Mattis was facing a July 1 deadline for deciding on transgender recruits.”We have reason to be proud today of what this will mean for our military – because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s another step in ensuring that we continue to recruit and retain the most qualified people - and good people are the key to the best military in the world”, Carter said in 2016. An amendment that would have prevented transgender people from doing so was debated during Wednesday’s markup of the House’s defense authorization bill.We are disappointed that the Department of Defense has chosen to delay, by six-months, implementation of the recruitment policy, thus denying qualified transgender individuals the opportunity to enlist, attend ROTC or enroll in one of the military academies. The evidence is already clear: even though thousands of transgender people are already serving openly in the military, the hypothetical problems and concerns some had speculated about have simply not materialized.Following a year-long review, former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last year lifted the ban on transgender military service.Transgender people already serving in the military are now allowed to do so openly, but no new recruits have been allowed to enlist.Transgender service members have been serving, openly and authentically, since October 2016 with no impact on readiness.The new deadline is January 1, 2018.However, new recruits were not allowed to enlist. Those guidelines were crafted with assistance from advocates for transgender people, such as the Palm Center, a think tank promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender concerns. “Stonewalling on full inclusion will, just like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, ‘ compromise military readiness”.Thousands of transgender people have served with honor and distinction in our military, including the more than 134,000 transgender veterans who are alive today. This had negative implications for our nation’s military readiness. The military needs to be able to recruit people based on their skills and abilities, regardless of whether they’re transgender. A service member who is able to be open and honest about their gender identity and receive appropriate care is more productive and focused on the mission.