Ten US Army soldiers are the first to formally request recognition under their preferred gender, as a new policy outlined by the US Pentagon to allow transgender military personnel to serve openly, took effect on October 1, 2016. The US Defence Secretary had made an announcement in June this year, that the ban on transgender military personnel serving openly was being lifted.
Gen Mark Milley, chief of staff of the US Army, said in an interview with The Associated Press, “Is the army ready? Well, we are educating ourselves, and we are trying to get ready,” reported by Hindustan Times. “We’re well-past the issue of debating and arguing about transgender. We are now into execution, to make sure the program is carried out with diligence, dignity, respect,” he added.
Commanders will take 30 days to respond for active duty troops and 60 days for soldiers in the National Guard and Reserve. Under the new Army guidelines, training must be developed by November 1, and it must be completed throughout the force by next July.
A transgender person no longer needs to hide to serve in the US military is certainly a progressive and welcome step, but there are still some documentation requirements, including medical approval that states the person has been stable in his or her preferred gender for 18 months and a driver’s licence that shows the preferred gender. Transgender service members will also receive the same medical coverage as any other military member, including all medical care.
While the news report references the US Defence Secretary citing a RAND study that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in US military active duty and another 1,500 to 4,000 in the reserves, Time Magazine had put the number closer to 15,000, saying they risked dismissal for revealing their identity, before these new rules came into effect.
It’s a welcome move, and the US in this case might be following in the footsteps of the UK, which made history earlier this year, when Chloe Allen became the first trans woman frontline soldier.
Feature Image Credit: indiatimes.in
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