Almost four years after lifting the ban on gay service members, the US military looks set to do the same for transgender personnel.
On Monday, US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter Carter announced a working group to study the “policy and readiness implications” of allowing transgender service members to serve openly.
He acknowledged in a statement that transgender men and women have always served in the military but that they “often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms.”
Carter also admitted that the Defence Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members represent “an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.”
He added that “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.”
The news was welcomed by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin.
“The time for ending the military’s ban on transgender service is long overdue, and we are confident that the Pentagon’s review of this discriminatory policy will find what many have come to know is true: Transgender Americans have every right to serve their country openly and honestly, and their sense of patriotism and duty is no less than any other service member’s,” he said.
The working group is expected to complete its study within six months, starting “with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness.”
Griffin said that there are approximately 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the US military, making the Department of Defence the largest employer of transgender people in America.