On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that the Pentagon will be taking steps to lift the ban on open and honest service by transgender military personnel. He announced the formation of a six-month working group to study the “policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.” He also acknowledged that transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines “are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that's contrary to our value of service and individual merit.” The Secretary has moved to immediately limit discharges by elevating all discharge decisions impacting transgender service members to Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson.
In March, The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) launched an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the outdated regulations inflict on military families. The report notes, “No one should be forced to choose between defending the country they love and being true to their authentic self. The outdated regulations serve no purpose and only dehumanize and prevent qualified and capable individuals from enlisting and serving. The ban perpetuates trauma to all those involved, both the service member and their family.
In response to Monday’s announcement, AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said, “We are thrilled with Secretary Carter's announcement that the Department of Defense is finally taking steps to lift the ban on transgender military service. All qualified Americans should be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity. Lifting the ban will dramatically improve the lives of our transgender service members and their families by allowing them to serve authentically."
Two of the most nationally covered advocates against the ban – Kristen Beck, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and Shane Ortega, a Sergeant with the U.S. Army – issued a joint statement to the media Monday evening that sums things up well: “We are elated at the announcement that soon officially the transgender military ban will be eliminated. This brings ease to selfless heroes who deserve equal dignity and respect. We look forward to continually working with the Obama Administration and Pentagon officials on a clean, swift and effective plan to close out this chapter of discrimination. Today is a great step forward for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the United States of America."