Pentagon planning to lift ban on trans people in US military
The Pentagon is readying plans to end the ban on trans people serving in the US military.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual people have been permitted to openly serve in the US military since 2013, when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed.
However, the US military continues to ban transgender people from serving under outdated medical regulations – which disqualifies people from service if they have “current or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias”.
The Pentagon has come under increasing pressure to amend regulations and allow trans people to serve, with the American Medical Association among those calling for reform, and Democratic lawmakers preparing legislation on the issue.
However, senior sources have confirmed to the Associated Press that plans to formally end on trans servicepeople the ban will be announced this week.
AP reports that the forces will conduct a six-month review to assess the potential impact of the change, ironing out the “legal, medical and administrative” issues before going ahead.
The services will also develop training to allow people to transition more easily.
It is understood that trans people will not be allowed to join until the review is complete – but existing servicepeople who come out as transgender before it is concluded will be referred to the Pentagon’s acting undersecretary for personnel, and are unlikely to be dismissed.
The news service reports that the new Defense Secretary Ash Carter – who replaced Chuck Hagel in the role in February this year – has tasked his personnel undersecretary Brad Carson with setting up a working group on the issue.
Both military and civilian leaders will be involved in the group.
Jailed whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been engaged in legal action over the ban, claiming she has faced discrimination as her military prison did not allow her to fully transition.
In the UK, trans people are allowed to serve openly – and Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory recently told PinkNews it might even be possible for transgender women to serve on the frontline in the infantry.
The Chief of Defence Personnel told PinkNews: “We do not yet have any female transgender people serving in the infantry. We haven’t had to address it because we haven’t had the issue come up.
“It would be a very interesting test case if it did come up. If somebody – birth gender male who physically has all the physical strength and durability but had transitioned, they might well be able.
“What we continue to do as we better understand these things is to look at our policy. That’s my response – to make sure as far as possible they are inclusive. It’s an interesting question.”