Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest non-profit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, responded to news that the Department of Defense (DoD) is delaying by six months the implementation of a new policy that will eventually allow transgender people to enlist and commission into the military. The delay will not prevent the thousands of currently serving transgender troops from continuing to serve. According to a report last week, the service chiefs recommended the six month delay to “gauge if currently serving transgender troops are facing problems and what necessary changes the military bases might have to make.”

“This six month delay is deeply disappointing because it unnecessarily delays the ability of transgender people to be open about their identity when entering the military,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “It has been unequivocally proven that allowing qualified transgender people to serve openly strengthens our military and creates a more inclusive and diverse force. The issue has been thoroughly studied and moving forward with this new recruitment policy is imperative in order for the military to be able to recruit the best talent our nation has to offer.”

There are an estimated 15,500 transgender service members currently serving, and on June 30, 2016, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the much anticipated end to the ban on open service by transgender service members. The end to the transgender military ban came more than a year after the Department of Defenselaunched a working group to asses the impact of updating the outdated regulations that prevented open service by transgender troops.

A detailed and comprehensive 2016 study by RAND refutes the unfounded arguments of some anti-LGBT activists who claim the policy change would result in high health care costs and harm military readiness. In fact, the study showed that health care costs would be minimal, and commanders in some of the eighteen other countries that allow transgender people to serve found “the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force.” Additionally, in June of 2015, the American Medical Association said there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.”

In March of 2015, AMPA released an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the former transgender ban inflicted on military families. The report noted, “The outdated regulations serve no purpose and only dehumanize and prevent qualified and capable individuals from enlisting and serving. The ban perpetuates trauma to all those involved, both the service member and their family.”

The memo from Secretary Mattis announcing his decision can be found here.