Ten U.S. military soldiers have formally requested that they be recognized by the identity they identify with.
Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley said the army is “trying to get ready” to accommodate such requests. He said it is important for the force, especially commanders, to know how to handle transgender soldiers who would want to change their gender.
“We’re well past the issue of debating and arguing about transgender,” Milley told the Associated Press. “We are now into execution, to make sure the program is carried out with diligence, dignity, respect.”
Although Milley was fully in favor of the policy, he expressed concerns that things are happening quite fast.
“The issue to do it or not to do it, to me is not an issue - the answer is yes,” Milley said. “The question of how to do it so that it is deliberate, well thought out, executed with professionalism — that’s a horse of a different color. Frankly I asked for more time.”
In June, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the ban on transgender people who desire to serve in the military has been lifted. Transgender service members are now allowed to serve “without fear of retribution.”
He cited a study that puts the number of actively serving transgender service members at 2,500 to 7,000. Carter added there were 1,500 to 4,000 transgender soldiers in the reserves.
“As a result of the yearlong study, I’m announcing today that we are ending the ban on transgender Americans in the United States military,” Carter said in a press release. “Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”
In addition, the gender identity of transgender soldiers should not hinder them from any accession program, Carter said.
"Our mission is to defend this country, and we don't want barriers unrelated to a person's qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” he said, according to CBS News.
The policy officially took effect on Oct. 1, with the new transgender guidelines being approved shortly after by Army Sec. Eric Fanning.
Fanning nominated by Pres. Barack Obama in May is the first openly gay secretary of the Army.
In the coming year, the army will start accepting transgender people who want to enlist, but they should meet the set standards and should have displayed stability in their chosen gender identity for at least 18 months.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time, but there are some things I don’t think you need to necessarily be trained on,” Milley said. “Rule One is treat your soldiers, your subordinates, your peers and your superiors as you want to be treated. Treat everybody with dignity and respect. Period. Flat out. Full stop.”