Almost five years after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the US military will end its ban on transgender personnel.
According to reports, the US Department of Defence (DoD) will finally announce an end to the discriminatory policy on 1 July.
“At long last, thousands of brave transgender patriots will be able to serve our nation openly with the respect they deserve,” said Human Rights Campaign (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,” said Griffin.
In July 2015, the Pentagon announced a working group to study how to modify existing regulations to allow open transgender military service.
The working group was expected to provide options for how to address the various regulations needed to be updated in order to allow for open service by transgender people. Its report has not yet been made public.
According to the Williams Institute, there are approximately 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the US military, making the DoD the largest employer of transgender people in America.
“These courageous men and women were forced to serve in silence by DoD medical regulations prohibiting their service and requiring their separation from the military if discovered – regulations that were outdated and out of step with current medical practice,” said HRC in a statement.
Eighteen other nations, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Israel, allow transgender people to serve openly in their militaries.
Until September 2011, openly gay service members were also barred from serving in the US military under the now repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.