LGBT advocacy groups are slamming Pentagon’s decision to delay a plan that allows transgender people to enlist in the military.The decision, reportedly announced in a memo from Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday, gives military branches six months to prepare for the enlistment of transgender soldiers, The Hill reports.
The service chiefs last week made the recommendation for Mattis to postpone the policy for six months, whereas the Army and the Air Force had previously asked for a two-year delay to the policy.
Several LGBT organizations have expressed strong dissatisfaction with the decision. The Palm Center, an LGBT think tank, issued a statement criticizing Mattis’s decision, saying it will “compromise military readiness”.
“Members of Congress are denigrating the value of military service by transgender troops, and service chiefs are pressuring Secretary Mattis to continue the transgender enlistment ban despite having no new arguments or data to back up their long-discredited assertions. Stonewalling on full inclusion will, just like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ compromise military readiness”, Palm Center director Aaron Belkin said.
The Human Rights Campaign also fired back at the delay, saying they were “disappointed” in Mattis’s decision, The Hill adds.
“We are disappointed in this needless delay because the thousands of highly trained and qualified transgender service members openly and proudly serving our nation today have proven that what matters is the ability to accomplish the mission, not their gender identity”, HRC press secretary Stephen Peters said.
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the ban barring transgender people from serving in the military last year. Carter set a July 1, 2017 deadline at the time for the military to allow transgender individuals to begin enlisting.Transgender people already serving in the military are currently allowed to do so openly, but no new recruits have been allowed to enlist.