New guidance released Monday that allows transgender service members to reenlist until February 2018 is the latest Pentagon move that, from the outside, looks somewhat reassuring.
But transgender troops who are currently serving under the shadow of being discharged in a few months say there is nothing positive about drawing out the uncertainty. They would rather know now if they have to make choices about their careers, their health insurance, their training plans, and their families.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis promised on Monday in a one-page memo to top military leaders that "First and foremost, we will continue to treat every Service member with dignity and respect” — a position that, like previous Mattis statements, civilians widely interpret as a sign the former Marine Corps general is in no hurry to push transgender troops out.
Several current and former transgender soldiers and their legal advocates, however, told BuzzFeed News that that's an unrealistically optimistic view of what Mattis is saying. His announcement that he would gather a panel of experts to provide recommendations and advice on how to carry out Trump’s directive doesn't mean anything if he is still implementing the ban, they say.
“You can’t make a plan on hope,” said US Army Capt. Jennifer Sims, who is stationed at the US Army garrison in Hohenfels, Germany. “The advice I give to transgender people in the military is just prepare for the worst. That’s all you can really do … It’s time to take resume classes and prepare for a civilian career.” Read more via Buzzfeed