WASHINGTON, DC – The Pentagon could in the coming months lift the ban on transgender people openly serving in the U.S. military, after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Monday a plan to study “readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.”
Carter made the announcement in a memo outlining a pair of directives to both study the effect of transgender service men and women over the next sixth months, as well as adding the new protocol that any personnel diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender will have their paperwork for dismissal from the military reviewed at the highest personnel levels in DOD.
“At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite,” Carter wrote in his statement. “Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.”
The White House has been pressing the Pentagon to move ahead to lift the ban, following the high court ruling but several top department officials have made the case time is needed to determine how several medical and legal issues will be dealt with, a U.S. Defense official told CNN.
The development was first reported by the Associated Press.
Members of Congress have been notified DOD will establish a working group to study policy and military readiness issues over the next six months.
The notification specifically tells Congressional members that the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without an adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness.
Currently those in the military who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender, are not permitted to take hormones or act upon their transgender status by dressing in military uniforms or living in barracks different from their established government status.
Some of the issues Pentagon officials say they need to establish clear guidance on include: can massive hormone doses be taken in a warzone, when is a transition complete, what happens if a person decides not to go through full surgical transition, when does a person change uniforms, change barracks, what type of medical care is paid for.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, hailed the Pentagon decision.
“Transgender Americans have every right to serve their country openly and honestly, and for far too long, this discriminatory ban has robbed them of the dignity of doing so,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.