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Dept of Defense Delaying Acceptance of Transgender Military Officers

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense confirmed that they will delay rolling out its policy for acceptance of transgender troops into the ranks. The decision by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis comes only hours before the July 1 deadline for the military to recruit transgender enlisted troops and accept new officers.

“We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in a memo.

“Secretary Mattis today approved a recommendation by the services to defer accessing transgender applicants into the military until Jan. 1, 2018,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement. “The services will review their accession plans and provide input on the impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces.”

In 2016, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter terminated the ban on transgender people being able to serve openly in the military. Last week, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps requested to delay the July 1 deadline.

Republicans in Congress are opposed to allowing transgender people to serve. An amendment that would have prevented transgender people from doing so was debated during Wednesday’s markup of the House’s defense authorization bill.

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In May, the Air Force and Army were unable to commission transgender cadets from their prestigious military academies because the military lacks an acceptance policy for new transgender troops. Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since 2016, but have not been allowed to enlist as new recruits. A group of 16 House Democrats had sent a letter to Mattis on Friday urging him not to delay accepting transgender recruits in the military ahead of the Saturday deadline.

Obama’s proposal is widely opposed, in part, because it would require soldiers to share bathrooms and shower facilities with people of the opposite sex, and would require the U.S. military pay for the expensive procedures — such as hormones and perhaps surgery — used by people trying to live as members of the opposite sex.

The military’s most famous transgender recruit, now named Chelsea Manning, was recently freed from military jail on Obama’s orders. When serving in Iraq, Manning illegally copied a huge haul of military records and videos and released them to the world.

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