Reuters is reporting that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday approved a six-month delay in allowing transgender recruits to join the U.S. armed forces.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement that Mattis accepted a recommendation to defer transgender applicants until Jan. 1.
The Pentagon ended its ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S. military in 2016 under the Barack Obama administration. It was expected to start allowing transgender people to begin enlisting this year, provided they had been “stable” in their preferred gender for 18 months.
Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter cited a study by the RAND Corporation saying there were about 2,500 transgender active-duty service members and 1,500 reserve transgender service members. Rand’s figures were within a range, which at the upper end reached 7,000 active duty forces and 4,000 reserves.
Transgender troops have been serving openly for the past year, and have been widely praised by their Commanders.
This delay request came from the Army and Marine Corps chiefs. The Navy is reportedly ready to accept transgender recruits.
According to reports, the initial delay requested was for up to two years. But anonymous sources told the AP that they were concerned about criticism from Congress if the delay was too long.
However, it’s impossible not to consider this didn’t factor into the decision somehow:
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler says that allowing transgender soldiers to serve costs taxpayers too much money.
Hartzler, a Republican whose district covers central and western Missouri, wants to reverse that policy and pointed to the cost of the surgery as the reason.
“The Obama transgender policy, which was implemented without input from members of Congress, is ill-conceived and contrary to our goals of increasing troop readiness and investing defense dollars into addressing budget shortfalls of the past,” Hartzler said in a statement.
“By recruiting and allowing transgender individuals to serve in our military we are subjecting taxpayers to high medical costs including up to $130,000 per transition surgery, lifetime hormone treatments, and additional surgeries to address the high percentage of individuals who experience complications.”
But LGBT advocates in Missouri say that Hartzler is using this financial argument to mask her opposition to transgender rights.