The Department of Defense reportedly wants to allow people who identify as nonbinary to serve openly in the military and is hiring a Washington, D.C.-area think to study the issue.
The Pentagon asked the Institute for Defense Analyses to “quietly” determine how it can open up military service to troops who identify as neither male nor female and often use “they” or “them” as their pronouns of choice, according to the online news outlet military.com, which cited three advocates familiar with the request.
Lt. Col. Bree Fram, a transgender Air Force officer, told military.com that speaking with nonbinary military personnel is a “great first step” and likened the study to an earlier analysis by researchers at the RAND Corporation in 2015 before the ban was lifted on transgender people serving in the armed forces.
“We are hopeful this will allow nonbinary individuals to serve authentically and realize their full potential in the military,” Lt. Col. Fram said in a statement to the website.
The Obama administration lifted the ban on transgender troops in 2016. The ban was reinstated three years later by President Trump but lifted again at the start of the Biden administration. Advocates of the policy change say loosening the rules for entry into the military will be necessary as more potential recruits identify as nonbinary.
“To get the talent, obviously, you’ve got to kind of get with the times,” Jennifer Dane, executive director of the Modern Military Association of America, an LGBTQ advocacy group, told military.com
In December, the Air Force began allowing personnel to include their preferred pronouns in their signature block on military emails.
Aaron Belkin, executive director of the Palm Center, which studies gender and sexuality in the military, predicted opponents will insist a policy change allowing nonbinary personnel to openly serve will be too complicated to enact.
“Implementation is not complicated. Period, full stop,” Mr. Belkin told military.com “The military could easily pull this off tomorrow. It would not be a big deal.”
• Mike Glenn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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