Military chiefs seek six-month delay in transgender recruits policy: report

Military chiefs seek six-month delay in transgender recruits policy: report
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The military’s service chiefs have agreed to recommend a six-month delay in the implementation of the Pentagon’s transgender enlistment policy, The Associated Press reported Friday.

The recommendation will now go to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem In Africa, defense without diplomacy and development is a losing strategy McCain pledges 'rigorous oversight' after Air Force failure to report Texas gunman's conviction MORE, who has final say in the policy.

The AP report prompted immediate backlash from LGBT military groups.

“Transgender troops have been serving openly and effectively for a year, as predicted by all of the research showing that inclusive policy for LGBT troops promotes readiness,” Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin said in a statement.

“A six-month delay of the last piece of inclusive policy, the repeal of the enlistment ban, will only produce redundant evidence about the contributions of transgender service members.”

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Transgender troops already in the military have been able to serve openly since then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted a ban in June 2016.

But under the policy Carter crafted, transgender recruits haven’t been allowed to enlist pending the end of a one-year implementation period, when ends July 1.

According to the AP, which cited unnamed officials, three of the four service branches wanted more time. The Army and Air Force wanted a two-year delay, while the Navy requested a one-year delay at the request of the Marines, which is under the Navy's purview.

The four service chiefs met with Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work about the issue this week, according to the AP.

The chiefs believe the extra six months before implementing the policy would give the services time to gauge if currently serving transgender troops are facing problems and what necessary changes the military bases might have to make, the AP reported.

LGBT groups fumed Friday.

“The chiefs who are demanding ongoing delay are not bringing any new arguments or new data to the table, but are recycling long-discredited concerns whose only basis is emotion and politics, not data,” Belkin said.

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) called the reported delay “disappointing.”

"This proposed delay is disappointing because it's such an incredibly important recruitment change," AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement.

"Secretary Mattis has made clear he believes there is a need to increase troop levels, and any qualified American who is willing and able to serve should have the opportunity to join the ranks, regardless of their gender identity. We urge Secretary Mattis to reject further delays and move quickly in implementing this important recruitment policy."

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) argued that a delay would harm readiness.

“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,” Stephen Peters, HRC national press secretary, said in a statement.

“There are thousands of transgender service members openly and proudly serving our nation today, and as they've proven time and time again, what matters is the ability to get the job done — not their gender identity.”