Mattis shelves pricey policy on transgenders, prioritizes ‘readiness and lethality’ of forces

by WorldTribune Staff, July 6, 2017

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has delayed by six months an Obama-era policy that would allow transgender people to enlist in the military.

Mattis said the delay until Jan. 1, 2018 would allow military leaders to ensure that the policy change will not disrupt U.S. military preparedness.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. / Getty Images

In a statement released on June 30, Mattis said:

“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: Will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force? Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation?”

Transgender people already serving in the military are currently allowed to do so openly, but no new transgender recruits have been permitted to join.

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who served as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence under President George W. Bush, said the decision by Mattis is a good first step.

“Fortunately, the military’s leadership realized what the American people already do: this makes no sense,” Boykin said. “With a price tag of $3.7 billion over 10 years, no one seems to understand the rush to embrace a culture change that not only undermines national security but taxpayers. Spending billions of dollars on transgender surgeries and treatment plans, when the military has other priorities that would actually ensure its effectiveness in war, is irresponsible”

Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg noted that, apart from the actual gender reassignment surgery (which would cost taxpayers as much as $110,450 each), “service members will also be unavailable for deployment for several months after surgery – adding $504.3 million in cost to replace them. Making matters worse, those who have had reassignment surgery or hormone therapy may actually be permanently non-deployable because they would require specialized medical care which may not be available everywhere in the world.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Republican, is pushing for a complete roll-back of a decision she calls a “threat” to readiness.

“This delay is indicative of a policy that was rushed and never clearly thought out, and I am pleased that Secretary Mattis has decided to delay the accession policy,” Hartzler saidl. “It is my hope that he will move forward with full repeal in the coming months”

LGBT advocacy groups slammed the decision, saying it would impede the military’s ability to attract soldiers.

“Members of Congress are denigrating the value of military service by transgender troops, and service chiefs are pressuring Secretary Mattis to continue the transgender enlistment ban despite having no new arguments or data to back up their long-discredited assertions,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the LGBT think tank Palm Center. “Stonewalling on full inclusion will, just like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ compromise military readiness.”

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