August 26, 2015; The Advocate
The Pentagon is moving to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military by May 27th, 2016. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that the “outdated” regulation harms the armed forces.
Pentagon officials will spend the next several months finalizing the legal and administrative changes needed to remove one of the last barriers to all Americans being able to serve in the military. If actualized, the plan would end one of the last discriminatory rules about enlistment in the American military and would be tacit recognition that transgender people already serve in uniform. Further, a beta program would provide leave of absences for transgender troops being treated for hormones or surgery.
According to some estimates, the number of transgender individuals serving in the military is over 15,000. Similar to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that applied to gay, lesbians, and bisexuals until it was repealed in 2011, the current rule has done little to keep transgender individuals from serving in the military.
Since Defense Secretary Carter’s appointment to the Pentagon this year, he has signaled his unhappiness over current policy, along with several other senior defense officials. In a statement made earlier this month, Mr. Carter said that he was creating a group that would end the ban on transgender individuals serving openly, as well as help train troops to ensure a smooth transition.— Kathleen Ebbitt