(The New American) Last year, the White House announced it would reinstate the ban against transgender individuals serving in the military, but on Monday, the Pentagon confirmed that the first transgender recruit, who wished to remain anonymous, has signed up for military service. Those who support the ban against transgender individuals serving in the military contend that they will only hurt military readiness and unit cohesion, while others point to the financial burden of allowing such individuals to serve in the military.
The recruit’s enlistment may have been premature, as the White House is expected to release its official policy on transgender troops on March 23, a deadline set by President Trump. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary James Mattis’ (shown) recommendations on whether transgender troops should be allowed to serve continue to be under review at the White House.
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter had announced in 2016 that transgender troops could serve openly in the military and that enlistment could begin in July of that year, but Mattis pushed that deadline to January of 2018 as he reviewed the Obama-era policy.
On Friday, Secretary Mattis’ recommendations were sent to the White House. Defense Department spokesman Army Colonel Rob Manning states Mattis’ recommendations are based on the findings of a department-led review late last year, which found that transgender troops could remain in the military under certain conditions. As of January 1, transgender recruits were allowed to be enlisted.
“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given. It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality,” Pentagon press secretary Dana White told reporters.
In August of 2017, when President Trump directed the Pentagon to reverse President Obama’s policy of accepting transgender recruits in the military and reinstate the ban, he explained that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The Trump administration had also previously said in legal papers that the armed forces were not prepared to train thousands of personnel on the medical standards needed to process transgender applicants and might have to accept “some individuals who are not medically fit for service” if transgenders were allowed in.