The first openly transgender recruit has joined the U.S. military since federal courts ruled against President Donald Trump’s ban transgender service members.
“The Department of Defense confirms that as of Feb. 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the U.S. military,” Pentagon spokesman Major David Eastburn told CNN, adding that the individual has signed a contract but not yet started basic training. Eastburn did not confirm who the recruit is or say which branch the recruit signed up for.
The news comes as the president continues to debate how the Defense Department will integrate transgender persons into military service. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis provided his recommendations to the White House on transgender people serving in the military last week. Reports suggested Mattis would recommend that transgender troops be allowed to serve.
The Department of Defense began accepting openly trans recruits on Jan. 1, but this is the first time one has offic… https://t.co/ovFwkC0Jv8— MSNBC (@MSNBC) 1519759813.0
“The Secretary of Defense made his recommendation to the White House this morning,” Eastburn toldThe Huffington Post on Friday. “The recommendation was a private conversation between the secretary and the White House, and the contents of the conversation will remain private.”
If this “recommendation” is anything but full inclusion of trans people in public service then it is literally inst… https://t.co/vPlkt23Rbb— James Michael Nichols (@James Michael Nichols) 1519413783.0
In July 2017, the president announced he would ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity, an abrupt reversal of an Obama administration decision which would have allowed them to serve openly.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1501073758.0
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1501074279.0
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1501074501.0
Trump’s decision came a month after Defense Secretary Mattis announced he would delay implementation of the plan to allow transgender troops by six months. Mattis made the decision on the eve of a deadline set nearly two years ago by then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had requested a six-month reprieve, saying they needed to conduct a review of how allowing transgender recruits to serve would affect the military’s effectiveness.
“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force?” Mattis said at the time. “Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military Services.”
Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s decision––a historic shift in gender policy––would have required all services to allow transgender individuals to enlist starting this year. In October, the Department of Defense distributed a commander’s training handbook and rolled out medical protocol and guidance for changing a service member’s gender in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System per Carter’s guidelines.
“This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force,” Carter said in 2016, explaining his landmark decision. “We’re talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can’t allow barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission.”