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US House Armed Services Committee to consider timeline for allowing trans troops

The US Armed Forces Committee is set on Wednesday to consider plans to allow transgender troops to sign up in the US Military.

Some members of the committee, Republicans, are planning to draft language which may jeopardise the program.

The committee will on Wednesday hold a markup of the 2018 defence budget bill.

“It’s still an important issue with regards to the state of the current force and restoring the warrior ethos, as well as conveying expectations to taxpayers,” said Representative Duncan Hunter.

“The Armed Services Committee is likely to consider the issue this week,” adds Hunter, a committee member.

“There are questions on whether the services should be able to actively recruit transgender candidates, and what costs would be footed by taxpayers in the areas of therapy and realignment, as well as the existence of adequate conscience protections in the event that the policy isn’t reversed altogether. These are things that need to be addressed whether members like the topic or not.”

The US Military earlier this week said that it would ask for a six-month extension before it implements a policy to allow trans people to join its ranks.

According to the Associated Press, service leaders are asking for a six-month delay, rejecting Air Force and Army requests to delay the new policy for two years.

They had been set a deadline of 1 July to bring in the policy announced back in 2016 meaning trans people could serve openly in the military.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will have to make a final decision on the delay.

Requests for a delay were put into the Pentagon earlier this year.

Trans troops have been able to receive healthcare benefits and formally begin gender transition since 1 October.

Former defense secretary Ash Carter had set 1 July as the deadline for troops meeting physical standards and medical standards if they have lived in their gender identity for 18 months.

“The Secretary of Defense directed the military departments to assess their readiness to access transgender applicants into the military,” said Army Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, a Pentagon spokesman earlier this year.

“The assessment is narrowly focused on readiness to access transgender applicants, not on gender transition by currently serving Service members.”

In June of last year, President Obama asked the Pentagon to lift its long-held ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.

Obama’s ruling meant, in theory, that transgender soldiers would be afforded the same healthcare coverage as other soldiers – including, if required, hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.

The Department of Defense was given until July 1st of this year to implement the policy, with LGBT advocates hopeful that transgender soldiers would be able to serve openly in just less than a month.

Last month, Defense Secretary Mattis distributed a carefully worded memo saying that Obama’s pro-trans plans would proceed “unless they cause readiness problems that could lessen our ability to fight, survive, and win on the battlefield”.

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