Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced this week that the Department of Defense (DOD) will begin the process of lifting the ban on transgender military service members, allowing transgender people to openly serve in the military.
In a statement Carter called the current ban on transgender service members “outdated,” writing, that throughout wars and conflict “transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms.”
Although transgender people are banned from military service, research shows that approximately 150,000 transgender people have served in the US armed forces, with 8,800 transgender individuals currently on active duty and another 6,700 transgender individuals serving in the Guard or Reserve forces. These folks often have to keep their gender identity secret, or else risk being discharged.
Carter says the DOD issued directives in order to integrate transgender service members, the first of which includes creating a six month group study “the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.”
“We welcome and applaud the announcement by Secretary Carter that the military will at last conduct a comprehensive review of the outdated ban that has for far too long discriminated against qualified transgender Americans who simply want to serve their country,” said Chad Griffin, President of the HRC. “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,” Griffin continued.
According to RH Reality Check, openly transgender people will not be able to join the military during the six-month review period, and decisions on whether to discharge individuals who are already serving will be referred higher up the chain of command.
Media Resources: Defense.gov Press Release 7/13/15; Williams Institute Research May 2014; RH Reality Check 7/15/15;