Wait for the announcement in April or May that the first transgender soldier has graduated Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, SC.
The Army issued a directive Friday that protects transgender soldiers from being dismissed by mid-level officers by requiring the decision for discharge to be made by the service’s top civilian for personnel matters.
The Army’s new policy is the latest indication that the military’s ban on transgender troops may be eased or even lifted.
Last month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told troops he was “very open-minded” about transgender troops, adding that nothing but a person’s ability to serve should keep them from serving. Two days later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama endorsed Carter’s comments.
USA TODAY first reported on the policy change in the All Army Activities directive when it was in draft form. The Army declined to comment on it Friday, said Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, a spokeswoman.
In essence, the announcement places a moratorium on dismissals by requiring officers to explain their decision to discharge a transgender soldier to a high-ranking civilian leader, a move many would view as potentially damaging to their careers. The Pentagon took the same tack when it backed away from its Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that banned gay and lesbian troops. It required a review of decisions to discharge gay troops by the department’s top lawyer and service secretaries, and no further dismissals occurred.[…]
There is no specific reassessment of the ban on transgender troops, according to Lt. Cdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman. However, a routine review began earlier this month of the Pentagon’s medical policy under which transgender troops are discharged, he said. The review is expected to take a year or more.