Announcement on allowing trans people to serve in US Military to come ‘soon’
An announcement is expected “soon” on the issue of allowing transgender people to serve openly in the US military.
Secretary Ash Carter earlier this year reiterated a commitment to allow out trans people to serve in the US Military.
“The question of principle we’ve sort of settled — what matters is people’s ability to contribute to our military,” said Carter during a Q&A session with cadets at the Air Force Academy.
“The only barriers we should ever erect to that principle are ones in which there are practical issues that we can’t work through.”
He added: “We do things in a careful, thoughtful manner, and I’m confident we’re going to get to the right place.”
The Defense Secretary did not specify which “practical issues” need to be overcome in order to allow trans people to serve.
Issues such as grooming and uniform specifications may still need to be worked out by the US Military.
But this week Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said at a press conference this week that the announcement should be expected imminently.
Cook said Carter had “challenged people within the department to work out issues resolving — to try and resolve this issue.”
“And there has been progress in terms of trying to consider how to move forward here and resolve this issue in the fashion that he first outlined several months ago,” he added.
It is unclear whether military healthcare would provide people with hormone replacement therapy, or cover gender reassignment surgery.
The comments come as states like North Carolina and Mississippi have effectively barred trans people from using gender-appropriate bathrooms.
Carter in July 2015 announced intentions to let trans people serve in the military.
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At the time he said the regulations “are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions.”
Trans rights advocates estimate that 15,000 people military troops out of around 2.2 million may be transgender.
Carter referred to General Lori Robinson, who will become the first woman to lead a combatant command when she takes over US Northern Command.
He said: “The Air Force has proven time and again that we are strongest when we draw from the entire strength of the nation… Females, after all, make up half the population. It would be foolish to pass over qualified people for any reason that has no bearing on their ability to serve with excellence.”