The Pentagon is planning to lift the ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S military within the next few months.
On Monday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the current regulations are outdated and announced the plan to study “readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.”
Carter ordering a six-month study aimed at formally ending one of the last gender or sexuality-based barriers to military service in the United States.
Carter said he is creating a working group that will review the policies and determine if lifting the ban would have any impact on the military’s ability to be ready for battle.
And 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.
In a statement, Carter wrote:
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have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.
The White House has been pressing the Pentagon to move ahead to lift the ban but several top department officials wanted time to determine how several medical, legal and administrative issues will be dealt with, and to develop training to ease any transition.
Currently those in the military who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender are not permitted to take hormones, or to dress in military uniforms or live in barracks which differ from their established government status.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organisation, hailed the Pentagon decision.
HRC President Chad Griffin added:
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.