The Pentagon is not reviewing or planning to review its policy that bans transgenders from military service, a defense official said Monday.
The official’s statement came a day after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told ABC News the prohibition on transsexuals and cross-dressers “continually should be reviewed.”
On Monday, the defense official said, “Bottom line, right now there are not any plans for a review to start.”
Lifting the ban has long been a goal of the gay rights lobby in Washington, which, with the election of President Obama, won a long-fought battle to lift the ban on open gays in the ranks.
Mr. Hagel drew a distinction between the military’s gay policy and current regulations on transgender people.
“The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it,” he said. “These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases don’t always provide that kind of opportunity. I do think it continually should be reviewed. I’m open to that, by the way.”
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The military lists transgenderism as a “psychosexual” condition that does not meet the standard for enlistment. It is found in an instruction, “Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services.” It was last updated in 2010.
The standards include scores of physical and mental conditions that prevent a person from joining the military, including, “Current or history of psychosexual conditions including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias.”
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group GLAAD defines transgender as “An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.”
Mr. Hagel did not say whether he supports welcoming transgender people into the force.
Since Mr. Obama took office, his administration has put the armed forces through a social revolution. He lifted the ban on homosexuals and opened military facilities to hosting gay marriages. He now is preparing to open infantry, armor and special operations direct-combat units to women.
In the meantime, Mr. Hagel is leading an all-hands charge to get more women to come forward and file complaints of sexual misconduct.