The Pentagon has affirmed it intends to make a determination on the transgender military ban this spring after the conclusion this month of an internal six-month review.
Matthew Allen, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will make a decision at that time in response to a Washington Blade inquiry this week for an update on the review.
“The transgender working group appointed by the secretary of defense will conclude its deliberations by the end of January and present its findings and recommendations directly to the secretary soon thereafter,” Allen said. “The secretary will take whatever time he needs to analyze, evaluate, and discuss the Working Group’s findings with his immediate staff and the senior leadership of the department. We do, however, anticipate a final decision from the secretary sometime in the spring.”
In July, Carter announced the Pentagon would undertake a review of transgender military service, which is currently banned as a result of medical regulation. At the time, Carter said the review would be conducted under the presumption the policy would be changed. In an attempt to limit transgender discharges, the secretary also directed that all separations of troops for gender identity would be handled by a senior civilian official.
According to the Pentagon, the working group’s recommendations will address accessions, retention, transition and medical care for transgender service members and potential applicants to the armed forces.
Although the Pentagon is set to complete its report by the end of the January, Allen indicated no part of the report will be officially made public until the final policy determination is made.
“Materials from the working group will be released only after the secretary makes a final decision and has determined what is appropriate for public release,” Allen said.
Media reports last year indicated the Pentagon was set to lift the trans ban on May 27, but Allen disavowed that was the target date, even with the expectation of a spring decision.
“Any end to the current prohibition on accessing transgender persons, or their open service in the military services, will be informed by the working group’s recommendations and final decisions made by the secretary of defense,” Allen said.
Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said the only determination Carter could make based on available data is lifting the ban on transgender service.
“If the new DOD policy is based on the successful experiences of our allies who allow transgender personnel to serve, and on the scientific consensus of the the American Medical Association and retired Surgeons General that there is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from military service, then I believe that full repeal will take place and implementation will be successful,” he said.