Defense Secretary James Mattis has delayed allowing transgender people to join the military until Jan. 1, 2018 at the earliest, the Pentagon announced Friday night.
In a statement, chief spokes person Dana W. White said Mr. Mattis was following a recommendation from the military branches.
In an explanation that indicates the issue is far from settled, the statement said “The services will review their accession plans and provide input on the impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces.”
Mr. Mattis has been under pressure from conservative activists and Republicans in Congress to deny recruitment to transgender people They also want him to roll back President Barack Obama’s decision last year to let transgender troops remain on active duty instead of being discharges automatically.
They cite medial costs, harm to unit combat readiness and embarrassing incidents to troops.
Former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had set July 1, Saturday, as the start of recruiting transgender people. His successor has now put that policy on hold.
Mr. Mattis said in a memo to the services and Gen. Joseph Dunford, Joint Chiefs chairman:
“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Defense of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of our armed forces? put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military forces to defend the nation?
“I have determined that that is is necessary to defer the star of accessions for six months. We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality.”