The Pentagon is prepared to implement a new policy clearing the way for transgender men and women to join the armed forces, Military Times has learned, but final approval rests with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who could endorse, revise, delay or even abandon it.
Mattis faces a July 1 deadline, according to the parameters defined by his predecessor as defense secretary, Ash Carter. But the sensitive matter has become much more urgent for two transgender students now within days of graduating from the Army and Air Force military academies.
As USA Today first reported May 10, the unidentified cadets were recently informed that, absent a policy formalizing new accession standards, they won’t be commissioned as military officers with the rest of their graduating class. Those proposed guidelines were sent to the defense secretary’s office but Mattis has yet to act on them, according to multiple sources familiar with discussions surrounding the policy’s implementation.
Meanwhile, neither the Army nor the Air Force has granted waivers to the cadets so they may proceed to serve in the active-duty military, causing some to question whether Mattis might decide against the proposed policy. Already, the Trump administration has moved to scale back federal protections for transgender students attending public schools, sending a strong signal it opposes further expanding such rights.
The Air Force Academy holds its graduation May 24 in Colorado Springs. West Point’s ceremony, at which Mattis is slated to provide the commencement address, will be held May 27 in New York. (Read more from “Jim Mattis Faces a Difficult Decision on the Military’s Transgender Policy” HERE)