US Military to lift ban on out trans soldiers serving from next week
The US Military has announced that transgender people will be allowed to serve openly from 1 July this year.
Defense 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 but the Department of Defense has now said that as of 1 July, the ban would be lifted.
At long last, thousands of brave transgender patriots will be able to serve our nation openly with the respect they deserve,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“This historic announcement will not only extend long-overdue recognition to thousands of transgender service members, it will strengthen our military and our nation. By turning the page on this disgraceful policy, we will now be able to recruit and retain the very best candidates, rather than discharging highly-trained, talented transgender service members for no other reason than who they are.”
Unlike the now defunct blanket ban on LGB people serving in the military, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the block on trans people from serving openly was merely a matter of policy update by the Department.
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At the time he said the regulations “are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions.”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.”