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Military regulations require the immediate dismissal of any service member who is found to be transgender. That is placing the some 15,500 transgender people serving in the military in a quandary, and forcing peers, supervisors and military doctors who are aware of members’ status to “look the other way,” according to sources and advocates interviewed by the Washington Post.
Political leaders from President Barack Obama to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have expressed support for examining the ban and, potentially, lifting it. The Pentagon, however, told the Post that no review was underway, and Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, worries that transgender service members are being lulled into a false sense of security.
She said openly transgender service members risk losing their jobs. Some two dozen service members have been discharged in the past two years after their transgender status was uncovered, according to advocates.
Military leaders are focused now on more urgent priorities such as the conflict with the Islamic State raging in Iraq and Syria and looming budget cuts. Army Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock told the Post that the military will eventually “do the right thing” by allowing transgender service members to serve openly. The change is just not going to occur as soon as some would like.