- July 13, 2015
Today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the establishment of a working group to study the “policy and readiness implications” of allowing transgender service members to serve openly. 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.” The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, which has long called for an end to the military’s ban on transgender service, praised the announcement.
"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and applaud the announcement by Secretary Carter that the military will at last conduct a comprehensive review of the outdated ban that has for far too long discriminated against qualified transgender Americans who simply want to serve their country," said HRC President Chad Griffin.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. Our military and our country will be stronger when this archaic policy is finally discarded and we look forward to that day."
The new working group is expected to take up to six months to complete its review.
There are approximately 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, making the Department of Defense (DOD) the largest employer of transgender people in America. These courageous service members are forced to serve in silence by DOD medical regulations prohibiting their service. These regulations are outdated and out of step with current medical practice. Unlike the statutory ban that interfered with lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from serving (known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) the ban on transgender military service is regulatory and only requires action by the DOD to update.