The ban on transgender service members will be lifted July 1, the Pentagon reportedly plans to announce. The repeal is a decision that would end nearly a year of back-and-forth about how to allow those officers to serve openly, according to Defense officials.
The move to repeal is likely to be swift, as senior personnel are expected to meet as early as Monday to iron out details of the plan and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work could sign off on the measure by Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the issue who spoke to USA Today on condition of anonymity.
A gay member of the US Air Force who chooses to not be identified reads a copy of the new magazine 'OutServe' intended for actively serving lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender, US military members September 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Final approval of the repeal, which would impact only a marginal number of the military's 1.3 million active duty members, would come from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the announcement would be on the night before Independence Day.
Should the ban be lifted, each branch of the military would go through a year-long sequence to implement the new policy, which would affect recruiting, housing and uniforms for transgender troops. Carter indicated last year that the armed forces would move forward with the repeal unless a review showed doing so would have an "adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness."
But some are not so sure the review would make any difference in the final decision.
Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, questioned whether an "honest and balanced assessment" could truly be made of the affects on "military readiness, morale and good order and discipline" under Carter's guidelines for a review.
Thornberry intensely questioned the Pentagon in a letter last July, calling on officials to provide extensive information on the impacts of repealing the ban on transgender troops.
"What would be the projected cost of changing the transgender service policy?" he asked. "To what extent would military barracks, ship berths, gym shower facilities, latrines, and other facilities have to be modified to accommodate personnel in various stages of transition and what would be the projected cost of these modifications?"
The lawmaker also asked how far the Pentagon would be willing to go in order to provide medical treatment for transgender officers. Thornberry asked if it would include "behavioral health treatment, cross-hormone therapy, voice therapy, cosmetic or gender reassignment surgery and other treatments?"
And the congressman is not alone in his concerns. According to anonymous sources familiar with the situation, the debate over the repeal has been contentious. One of the chief concerns is how long transgender members would be required to serve before being eligible for medical treatments associated with a transition to another gender.
The Pentagon responded to Thornberry's questions in September, department spokesman Eric Pahon said. But the main focus of its review was on how the measure might affect the military's readiness to fight. More details about the review are expected to be released soon.
Additionally, the Pentagon commissioned a report on transgender troops from RAND Corp., but the findings have not yet been published. It estimated there are fewer than 2,500 transgender members currently in the armed forces and only 65 of whom would seek medical treatment each year, the New York Times reported.
Currently, transgender people do not qualify for the military due to medical reasons. The Pentagon has not tracked the number of people turned away because of this policy.
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