Posts Tagged As: Ashton Carter

Pentagon Ends Ban On Transgender Service Members

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2016

AshtonCarterAnnouncementSecretary of Defense Ashton Carter this afternoon announced that “effective immediately,” the ban on openly transgender service members in the military has come to an end:

“The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now — the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” Carter said Thursday at the Pentagon.

“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. We have to have access to 100% of America’s population,” he added.

“Although relatively few in number, we’re talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction,” he said. “We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we’ve invested in and who’ve proven themselves.”

Carter said the decision was “a matter of principle.”

“Americans who want to serve and meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete,” he said.

The ban’s lifting comes after about a year of study, and it will take another nine month to implement all of the policy changes needed. That nine-month plan includes providing transition-related care and beefing up the armed services non-discrimination policies:

By Oct. 1, the Pentagon will create training handbook, medical protocol and “guidance for changing a service member’s gender in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System (DEERS),” Carter’s announcement said. “At this point, the services will be required to provide medically necessary care and treatment to transgender service members according to the medical protocol and guidance, and may begin changing gender markers in DEERS.”

The reality, Carter said, is that there are already transgender people serving in the military, and the Pentagon owes it to them to care for them and give commanders guidance.

…The decision to lift the ban was not entirely welcome on Capitol Hill. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a Texas Republican, asked Carter pointed, specific questions last year about how removing the ban would improve military readiness, including its cost and effect on morale. A letter in response to Thornberry from the Pentagon, obtained by USA TODAY, thanked him for his interest but provided no specific answers.

Carter called the decision to end the ban his own, which was why the military’s top uniformed officers, such as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, was not appearing with him to announce the change.


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