DOD to allow transgender servicemembers to serve openly
WASHINGTON – Transgender men and women can serve openly in the United States military following the repeal Thursday of Pentagon policies that forced them to keep their gender identities secret or risk a discharge.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said those policies discriminated against “talented and trained Americans,” and did not represent the values of the United States military as he announced his decision at the Pentagon nearly a year after he vowed to repeal the ban. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers blasted Carter’s decisions as “politics over policy” during a time of war.
“Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said. “We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified and to retain them.”
The new policy will be rolled out over a one-year period. Effectively immediately, Carter said, troops cannot be discharged, denied reenlistment or involuntarily separated solely because of their gender identity. But it will be about a year before the military begins to openly recruit transgender individuals to join the service. Even then it will only allow transgender individuals who have completed any gender-related medical treatment to join the military, and it will require certification from a doctor that they’ve been “stable in their preferred gender for 18 months,” according to Pentagon documents.
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