Post submitted by Stephen Peters, former Senior National Press Secretary and Spokesperson

Last Friday, the U.S. Army made a big change impacting transgender soldiers who continue to be prohibited by outdated regulations from serving openly as their authentic selves. Removal of a transgender soldier from the Army must now be approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, rather than by local unit commanders, which will make it more difficult for transgender soldiers to be fired.

The news that the Army was considering this change first broke in February, although the publication of the administrative message on Friday made the policy official. A similar policy was put in place requiring high-level approval for the removal of gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members prior to the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  

It’s important to note that this does not change the outdated regulations that currently prevent transgender service members from serving openly. Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Alayne Conway told ABC News, “The Army policy concerning separation of transgender soldiers has not changed. By elevating disposition authority, the action will ensure consistency in the application of existing Department of Defense and Army policy."

Additionally, this change does not impact transgender service members who are serving in other branches of the military.

Friday’s news follows recent comments by the Secretary of Defense at a town hall meeting in Kandahar, Afghanistan, that appeared to indicate support for open service by transgender service members.

HRC continues to call on the Secretary of Defense to direct a comprehensive review of the outdated regulations negatively impacting the estimated 15,500 transgender service members currently serving in silence.

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