Sol­diers will get trans­gen­der troop train­ing

Ses­sions aim to help per­son­nel ac­cept trans­gen­der troops

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Vanden Brook @tvan­den­brook USA TO­DAY

The Army has be­gun com­pul­sory trans­gen­der sen­si­tiv­ity train­ing for sol­diers and civil­ians as the Pen­tagon makes halt­ing progress es­tab­lish­ing poli­cies to ac­cept trans­gen­der troops.

The Army held ses­sions Tues­day — com­pul­sory for all of­fi­cers, non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers and civil­ians who work with sol­diers — to help them im­ple­ment mil­i­tary pol­icy on trans­gen­der troops and to “as­sist sol­diers who have a med­i­cal di­ag­no­sis in­di­cat­ing that gen­der tran­si­tion is med­i­cally nec­es­sary through the gen­der tran­si­tion process.”

The train­ing ses­sions spring from the de­ci­sion last year by then-De­fense sec­re­tary Ash Carter to re­scind the mil­i­tary’s ban on trans­gen­der troops. Carter’s move al­lowed trans­gen­der troops in uni­form to con­tinue to serve, but it gave the ser­vices one year to im­ple­ment poli­cies for re­cruit­ing trans­gen­der en­listed troops and com­mis­sion­ing of­fi­cers.

“The train­ing module specif­i­cally out­lines key roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of com­man­ders, trans­gen­der sol­diers, mil­i­tary med­i­cal providers and ad­min­is­tra­tive man­age­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions,” Lt. Col. Jen­nifer John­son, an Army spokes­woman said in an email. “This train­ing is manda­tory for all uni­formed mem­bers, as well as Depart­ment of the Army civil­ians.”

The 50-minute ses­sion is a “les­son that will as­sist sol­diers in un­der­stand­ing Army pol­icy for the mil­i­tary ser­vice of trans­gen­der sol­diers so that they can im- ple­ment the pol­icy while main­tain­ing morale, readi­ness, and good or­der and dis­ci­pline” and to train those in their com­mand on the pol­icy.

Last week, USA TO­DAY re­ported that the Army and Marine Corps has asked the Pen­tagon for de­lays in ac­cept­ing new, trans­gen­der troops. Un­der Carter’s plan, the ser­vices had un­til July 1 to es­tab­lish re­cruit­ing poli­cies. The Army now says it needs two more years, and the Marines one year to an­a­lyze the im­pact of ac­cept­ing them and con­cerns about their avail­abil­ity to de­ploy while re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ment.

Their re­quests for de­lays fol­lowed a May 31 memo from Deputy De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert Work to the ser­vices call­ing for an up­date on their plans ac­cept­ing trans­gen­der troops. Work in­structed lead­ers of the armed ser­vices that Pen­tagon lead­er­ship didn’t in­tend to re­con­sider the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion-era poli­cies un­less they could “cause readi­ness prob­lems that could lessen our abil­ity to fight, sur­vive and win on the bat­tle­field.”

The lack of a pol­icy on ac­cept­ing new trans­gen­der troops has caused prob­lems for the ser­vices. Last month, grad­u­ates from the Air Force and Army’s ser­vice academies could not be com­mis­sioned be­cause the ser­vices had not set stan­dards for ac­cep­tance.

There are an es­ti­mated 6,000 trans­gen­der troops among the Pen­tagon’s 1.3 mil­lion-mem­ber ac­tive-duty force, ac­cord­ing to a 2016 study by the RAND Corp.

The train­ing ses­sions spring from the de­ci­sion last year by De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter to re­scind the mil­i­tary’s ban on trans­gen­der troops.

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