Soldiers will get transgende­r troop training

Sessions aim to help personnel accept transgende­r troops

- 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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