The Pentagon is working on a policy allowing transgenders to join the military, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis has until July 1 to accept or reject the policy.
Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter put into place a transgender implementation policy in 2016 that sets a date of July 1 for the military services to begin “accessing transgender applicants who meet all standards,” but at the end of the day, final authority rests with Mattis, Military Times reports.
Pressure is building for a decision as now two transgender students are about to graduate from West Point and the Air Force Academy. However, because of existing policy, these students will be allowed to graduate once they pass exams but will not be permitted to serve and will not be commissioned as officers.
“Currently, there is an Air Force Academy cadet who has identified as a transgender individual,” Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, an Air Force Academy spokesman, told USA Today. “The cadet can graduate. But, per the current (Department of Defense) transgender policy, this cadet cannot commission into the Air Force. However, we are strongly recommending this individual for Air Force civil service as an option for continued service after the academy.”
Military Times has learned that Mattis was sent proposed guidelines on how to handle the transgender students, but he has not done anything in response to the guidelines so far.
Neither the Air Force nor the Army has issued waivers to the two in question.
It’s unclear if President Donald Trump’s commitment to ending political correctness in the military extends to blocking transgenders from joining. Although Mattis in 2016 told Military Times that care is needed to ensure that “we do not undercut battlefield effectiveness with shortsighted social programs,” he has backed the idea of women serving in combat, solidifying a policy implemented during the Obama administration.
And during his confirmation hearing in the Senate in January, Mattis said that he isn’t really interested in rolling back policies that allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military.
“I have never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,” he said.