The Department of Defense might be en route to reforming its policies regarding transgender people in the military.
In a statement Monday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the department's regulations "outdated" and "confusing." He announced two directives that will hopefully lead to transgender people being able to serve in the Army openly. It seemed like the right next step following the Don't Ask Don't Tell era.
"At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualifications 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," Carter said. "Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines—real patriotic Americans—who I know being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that's contrary to our value of service and individual merit."
These days, transgender people are deemed "medically unfit for duty," and the ones who can serve, face being separated from the gender group they identify with.
Carter said a team will study for six months the impact of lifting prohibitions against the transgender community, and go from there.
From his statement:
At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified. Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.
As I've said before, we must ensure that everyone who's able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military's future strength depends on it.