Months before Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon would take steps toward allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military, Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King last year became what she believes is the first openly transgender member of the infantry.
While official Pentagon policy still forbids openly transgender personnel, her commanders have been supportive, she said. King even purchased a female dress Army service uniform, anticipating that she would be able to wear it soon.
“I made a decision that owning that uniform was important to me, and I believe that our leadership is going to do the right thing,” she said.
But four months after a deadline Carter set for a working group to finish evaluating the change, transgender service members are still waiting. Officials say disagreements remain in the Defense Department about how to move forward, suggesting that the Pentagon isn’t close to wrapping up the review, let alone instituting any changes.
Peter Levine, who recently took over as the Pentagon’s acting personnel chief, said that Carter remains committed to pursuing the change, but added that it will likely take “months, but not large numbers of months” more to finalize details.