The Pentagon is intensely reviewing the Obama-Era that would allow transgender men and women to join the U.S military beginning this summer.The Obama directive was issued in June 2016 and gave a one-year deadline for the armed services to implement the policy.
Though the military has been slowly allowing more women and members of the LGBT community to serve in individual cases—with three women joining a Marines infantry unit for the first time in January—the issue of transgender people openly serving has still been highly contentious within the military. Leaders worry over the funding required to implementing a transgender-friendly military where biological sex would mean absolutely nothing.Changing of living quarters, upgrading of showers, and lack of funding are the primary logistical concerns. Obama’s ruling meant, in theory, that transgender soldiers would be afforded the same healthcare coverage as other soldiers – including, if required, hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery. Military officials also told the Military Times that there were many more procedural issues that made things difficult for the policy to be implemented.
President Donald Trump, who last year became the first Republican to mention the LGBT community at the political party’s national convention, has otherwise declined to overtly support transgender people, and in February rescinded rules on bathroom usage for transgender students at public schools. That measure could have also had an impact on Defense Department schools. The greatest concern is that catering to those with gender-related delusions will negatively impact the military’s readiness. Pentagon officials are also reviewing the amount of time a transgender military prospect must be in their gender identity before they are allowed to apply. Some officials are concerned the psychological effect of gender dysphoria could inhibit transgender applicants’ combat effectiveness.
The military has approximately 7,000 transgender service-members who cannot be discharged per the Obama administration’s guidance. A June 2016 Rand Corporation study found that additional health care for these service-members will cost taxpayers between 2.4 and 8.4 million dollars.
A leading LGBT advocacy group called any delay “unacceptable.” In a statement, Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, said it would send a “deeply alarming signal” from the Trump administration.
“Thousands of transgender service members are openly and proudly serving our nation today,” the statement reads, “and there is no reason not to move forward with the timeline as planned now for nearly a year. Any applicant, regardless of gender identity, who is qualified and willing to serve should be allowed to do so.”
Last month, two service academy cadets were not allowed to commission in their chosen gender identity because no official policy guidance has been issued. A cadet graduating the Air Force Academy is being recommended for an Air Force civil service job as a civilian.