Transgender people will, for the first time, be allowed to serve openly in the US military under a plan currently being finalized by the Pentagon.
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced Monday (13 July) that under the plan, transgender military personnel could begin serving openly early next year. It also acknowledges there are already thousands of trans people essentially serving silence.
Carter said in a statement that over the next six months, a working group will study ‘the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.’
‘At my direction, 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,’ he stated.
Carter added: ‘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.’
The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), which has been among those pushing for an end to the ban, cheered the turn of events which comes nearly three years since the military officially ended its ban on gays, lesbians and bisexuals serving openly.
‘We are thrilled with Secretary Carter’s announcement that the Department of Defense is finally taking steps to lift the ban on transgender military service,’ said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. ‘All qualified Americans should be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity. Lifting the ban will dramatically improve the lives of our transgender service members and their families by allowing them to serve authentically.’
In March , AMPA launched a joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the harm the regulations have inflicted on military families.
The report had noted that ‘no one should be forced to choose between defending the country they love and being true to their authentic self. ‘