The US Navy has made an announcement that it will be requiring all naval personnel to undergo transgender sensitivity training to be completed by July 2017. At that time, the navy will begin to accept transgender recruits.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a separate decision in June to overturn a ban on allowing openly transgender people to serve in the US military.
"Service members are expected to maintain standards of conduct and treat each other with dignity and respect. Training for sailors will be conducted by command triads via mobile training teams or DVD with a facilitation guide if the unit is in a remote area and unable to receive face-to-face training," said a spokesperson for the Naval Personnel Command.
The announcement came in the form of a letter written by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral Robert Burke to all US Navy members. In the letter, Burke noted that the training "will emphasize policies and expectations of personal behavior." The content of the education sessions have not yet been made public.
"We do not tolerate harassment of any kind. Treating all service members with dignity and respect is something we take extremely seriously, and when there are any indications that those values are not being followed, we will conduct appropriate investigations and take action as necessary," said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson went on to say that sailors will be able to complete transgender training through webinars.
The new policy will allow all sailors to use the restroom facilities that correspond to their preferred gender. In addition, procedures will be implemented pertaining to how to handle sailors who are considering undergoing a gender change, writes Chris Enloe for The Blaze.
The move comes as the most recent push by the Obama administration to include LGBT personnel within the military. The "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was removed in 2011 by Obama. Originally enacted in 1993 by president Clinton, the policy prohibited openly gay and bisexual recruits from the military, reports Rodney Pelletier for Church Militant.
However, since its repeal, data from the American Psychological Association found that instances of male-on-male rape have greatly increased within the military, adding that the Department of Defense could be underreporting these instances by as much as 15%. In 2011, the number of male-on-male sexual assaults reported in the military totaled 19,300. By 2012, that number increased to reach 26,300, reports Johnathan Jones for Western Journalism.
Not everyone agrees with the move. One sailor called forcing sailors to complete such training an "undue burden" and suggested that it could result in division among the ranks. The sailor went on to say that superiors were more likely to come down on sailors being accused of offending "protected groups" within the military out of fear of the consequences associated with "bad publicity."
Despite receiving criticism over his decision, Carter maintains that the move will only make the military stronger, saying the Defense Department needs to make itself available to all the talent it possibly can.