A plan to allow transgender people to openly serve in the US military is in the final stages, which will put an end to what many see as one of the last discriminatory barriers into service.
As well as allowing any new applicants to openly be serving as transgender, it would also offer recognition to the 15,000 transgender people estimated to be serving in the military, many of whom keep their status a secret.
US defence secretary Ash Carter, announced the plan to study “readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. 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have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit. Transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms.”
The Army have about six months to assess the impact of the change before it is introduced. As you would expect, transgender people will not be allowed to join the US military, however any plans to remove someone already serving would be referred to the Pentagon.
Ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, applauded the Pentagon’s move as a solid first step: “Incorporating the presumption that transgender individuals can serve openly, without adverse impact on the military effectiveness and readiness, is a step in the right direction. But it is long past time that we definitively and affirmatively make it clear that gender identity should have no bearing on an individual’s ability to serve.”
According to a statement from Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat house minority leader, that includes everything from: “ensuring that service records are updated to reflect a service member’s identity, to ensuring that no one is forced to leave the service because of that identity. For transgender service members, veterans and their loved ones, this represents a monumental step toward honouring their sacrifice, courage and strength.”