Document on transgender service leaked

USA Today obtained a memo circulated at last Wednesday's transgender service working group meeting and shared it yesterday.

The document included a timeline for repeal as well as major points to be discussed.

The memo, circulated last week among top personnel and medical officials, lays out the road map for ending the policy and highlights some of the potential issues, including a pilot program that would provide leaves of absences for transgender troops being treated with hormones or having surgery.

The timeline identifies May 27, 2016 as the day transgender Americans will be allowed to serve openly.

Leaders of the Army and Air Force acknowledge that they each have at least 20 transgender troops currently serving openly, according to an anonymous source. Although the current policy would ban such service, there is currently a de facto moratorium on dismissals of troops based on their gender status.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter ordered a six-month review of the issues surrounding transgender service with the assumption that transgender troops can serve openly "objective, practical impediments are identified."

The memo details a list of issues surrounding the open service of transgender troops, including medical treatment, housing, uniforms and physical fitness standards.

Earlier this month the Palm Centers' Aaron Belkin published an analysis of the cost of transition-related medical care in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Pentagon officials will consider a pilot program that would allow transgender troops under medical treatment to take a sabbatical from service, returning to the ranks after they have made their transition to the other gender. They must also decide whether transgender troops being treated are eligible for deployment to war zones, the memo says.

For those who were discharged during the previous regime:

Also under consideration: revisiting the discharge status of transgender troops who have been kicked out of the service. It is unclear how many troops have been discharged over the years for the condition because the Pentagon does not track them. A dishonorable discharge for having gender dysphoria could affect employment opportunities and veterans benefits.

Some top officers complained that the military has been asked to enact too much social change in recent years, including the 2011 repeal of the military’s ban on gay and lesbian troops serving openly, and on the continuing integration of women into combat units, said the Defense official and a colleague, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

It is estimated that there are nearly 17000 transgender service members currently serving.

The review directed by Secretary Carter has only recently begun, and has months yet to go. We have no reason to believe that the leaked draft is anything other than some proposed questions, topics, and possible approaches. We will wait for the Defense Department to comment officially, rather than respond to rumors.

-- SPARTA president Sue Fulton

The ending of this ban gives hope to a more inclusive future. Now, we are living out the true meaning of our Constitutional creed — to honor and respect all gender identities of our service members. Today our military has been lifted up. We move from strength, to strength in defense of the greatest country in the world.

--transgender former Navy Seal Kristin Beck and active duty Sgt. Shane Ortega

We are elated and moved. The trend of the U.S. Military is headed towards the unmovable truth that all men are created equal. We are proud that the Military Freedom Coalition led the way to this human rights victory. We give special thanks to Kristin Beck and Shane Ortega who risked their private lives, public image and legacies to stand up and fight. History will remember their sacrifice.

----Sean Sala and Ashleigh Barazza, co-founders of the Military Freedom Coalition

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