Just weeks after the Pentagon officially allowed transgender service members to openly serve, 10 soliders have asked to be formally recognised as their gender identity according to Army officials.
This relatively small number only represents those who have come out publicly as transgender, and also doesn’t include soldiers who may not have started their transition yet or are only just beginning their journey. It also doesn’t include people that don’t want to make an official paperwork change.
Chief staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, said that the key is now to educate the forces, especially commanders who will have to make decisions about soldiers who come out as transgender.
He said to the Associated Press: “Is the Army ready? Well, we are educating ourselves, and we are trying to get ready. 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.”
As you may know, the new policy from the Pentagon took effect on October 1, meaning that not only can trans people serve openly, they can also receive medical care and begin changing their gender identity in the Pentagon’s personnel system. Next year will see more changes as well, as that will be when transgender people can enlist in the Army, assuming they meet standards and have been stable in the gender identity for 18 months.
Aaron Belkin, director of the independent research institute Palm Center, had this to say: “We’re monitoring implementation closely, and everything we’ve seen so far points to a military organization fully committed to treating everyone equally and providing medically necessary care to all troops, not just some. My conclusion, so far, is that implementation has proceeded smoothly and successfully.”
However, there are still concerns from within the military that things are moving too fast, including Gen. Mark Milley.
He said: “The issue to do it or not to do it, to me is not an issue — the answer is yes. The question of how to do it so that it is deliberate, well thought out, executed with professionalism — that’s a horse of a different color. Frankly I asked for more time.”
“It’s going to take a little bit of time, but there are some things I don’t think you need to necessarily be trained on. Rule One is treat your soldiers, your subordinates, your peers and your superiors as you want to be treated. Treat everybody with dignity and respect. Period. Flat out. Full stop.”
Under these new rules, transgender soldiers will be able to use the housing, bathrooms, uniforms and fitness standards of their gender identity only after they have legally transitioned to that gender and it has been documented in their records. However, no transgender-only areas are allowed, and any privacy accommodations must be open for us to all soldiers.
So far, it seems that the military is on the right track.