Ending transgender ban: US Military Transgender Ban

Published: July 14, 2015

Ending transgender ban: US Military Transgender Ban, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has ordered the creation of a working group that will begin the process of ending the ban on transgender persons from serving openly in the U.S. military. Over the next six months the group will assess the impact and see what changes have to made to lift the ban.

In a statement, Carter said the working group “will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”

Carter called current regulations banning transgender service members “outdated” and “are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions.”

In February, in his first month on the job as Defense Secretary, Carter made it known that he was “very open-minded” about transgenders service in the military.

Transgender persons are barred from entering the military under medical prohibitions and transgender service members can be dismissed from service.

The ban has remained in place after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011 that lifted the ban on gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

But there has been inconsistency in the process as some commanders have not pursued dismissal proceedings against transgenders serving in their units.

In addition to establishing the working group, Carter also made it more difficult to dismiss transgender persons currently serving in uniform.

“I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary (Brad) Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.” Carson is the acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readines.

Carter said that over the last 14 years of war the American military has learned to adapt to different challenges on the battlefield and in the ranks. “Throughout this time, transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms,” said Carter.

The Defense Department does not know how many transgender persons may be serving in the military, though a study by UCLA’s Williams Institute has estimated that there may be as many as 15,500 serving on active or reserve duty.

“As I’ve said before, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both,” said Carter. “Our military’s future strength depends on it.”


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