US to end ban on transgender soldiers in armed forces

Washington , July 14: The US will end its ban on transgender soldiers serving in the armed forces, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has announced.

“Defence Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions,” Carter said in a statement yesterday as he announced creating a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.

The working group would be led by the (Acting) Under Secretary of Defence for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson.

“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 said.

“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 Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations,” he said.

“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. Going forward, the Department of Defence must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military’s future strength depends on it,” Carter said.

The Pentagon’s move was widely welcomed. The House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Adam Smith, applauded Carter’s decision to establish a working group to study the policy and readiness implications of allowing transgender persons to serve openly.

“Incorporating the presumption that transgender individuals can serve openly, without adverse impact on the military effectiveness and readiness, is a step in the right direction. But it is long past time that we definitively and affirmatively make it clear that gender identity should have no bearing on an individual’s ability to serve,” Smith said.