DOD Poised to Dump Ban on Transgender Soldiers

     (CN) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday that the Pentagon will take six months to consider allowing transgender service members to serve openly in the military.
     “The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions,” Carter said in a statement. “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.
     “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have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit,” he added.
     To pave the way for allowing transgender service members to serve openly in the military, the Pentagon has created a six-month working group to study the policy and readiness implications.
     “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,” Carter said.
     Carter also ordered that all administrative discharge decisions for service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender will now be made by DOD undersecretary Brad Carson.
     “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,” Carter said.
     The news comes nearly a year after convicted Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning sued military officials for not allowing her to outwardly express her female gender or providing her with hormone therapy.
     In the suit, Manning says she came to terms with being a transgender woman when it was “not safe to publicly come out,” during her military service in 2009.
     Her military psychologist diagnosed her with gender dysphoria in Baghdad shortly before her arrest.
     An independent commission urged the Obama administration to dump the decades-old ban on transgender service members in 2014.

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