Pentagon OKs 6-month delay in transgender enlistments

This is an aerial view of the five-sided Pentagon building, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, in Arlington, Va., in 1975.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is giving the military chiefs another six months before they begin allowing transgender individuals to enlist in the armed services.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says Mattis made the decision Friday.

A Mattis memo obtained by The Associated Press says he wanted to give the services time to ensure the change won’t affect the readiness and lethality of the force.

His decision endorses an agreement hammered out last week by the military service leaders. That plan rejected Army and Air Force requests for a two-year wait and reflected the broader worry that a longer delay would trigger criticism on Capitol Hill.

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, but not allowed to enlist as new recruits.