Dems to Mattis: Don't delay transgender enlistment policy

Dems to Mattis: Don't delay transgender enlistment policy
© Getty

Sixteen House Democrats are pushing Defense Secretary James Mattis to not delay accepting transgender recruits into the military ahead of Saturday’s deadline for doing so.

“We strongly encourage you to deny the request for a six month delay in transgender policy implementation,” the lawmakers wrote in a Friday letter to Mattis. “There are thousands of transgender individuals in our military today. There should be no further delay in implementing this policy and allowing transgender individuals to serve the country they love.”

The letter was organized by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

ADVERTISEMENT
Transgender troops currently in the military have been allowed to serve openly since June 2016, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the ban. But transgender people interested in enlisting were still not allowed to join the military, pending the end of a one-year implementation period.

The ban on transgender recruits is supposed to end Saturday under the timeline set by Carter. But the service chiefs last week requested that Mattis delay accepting transgender recruits for six months, arguing that more time was needed to study the issue.

Carter’s policy for transgender recruits would allow them to enlist after they have been stable in their gender for 18 months. The service chiefs also requested that be changed to two years.

The Pentagon has yet to announce Mattis’s decision on the service chiefs’ requests.

In their letter, the lawmakers highlighted that the policy announced by Carter was the process of a yearlong Pentagon review that included both military and civilian personnel.

“The findings indicated that the medical cost of transgender service members would be limited, and that far from hindering readiness, ‘commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force,’” the lawmakers wrote, quoting the RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon as part of the review.

The lawmakers also pushed back on the chiefs’ request to make transgender recruits wait two years after transitioning before enlisting.

“There is no evidence to support this change, and we are concerned that it could hinder the recruitment of troops,” they wrote.

The letter was cosigned by Democratic Reps. Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne Marie BonamiciReporter beats lawmakers to win charity spelling bee Gore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere Dems to Mattis: Don't delay transgender enlistment policy MORE (Ore.), Salud Carbajal (Calif.), André Carson (Ind.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Joseph Kennedy (Mass.), Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), Mark PocanMark William PocanCongress must end American support for Saudi war in Yemen House votes on US involvement in Yemen Democratic lawmaker has triple bypass MORE (Wis.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Dina Titus (Nev.) and Niki Tsongas (Mass.), as well as Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.).