The history trans military ban will be lifted effective immediately
Today Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made a historic announcement that it will lift the long-standing ban on military service by transgender Americans. From this point on transgender individuals will now be able to openly serve in the U.S. armed forces, read the statement. The announcement comes five years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that allowed lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to openly serve.
In a news conference, Carter said: “Effective immediately, transgender Americans can serve openly, and they no longer can be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender. This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force. We’re talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can’t allow barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission.”
In a statement published on the Department of Defense’s website, Carter explained that the department policies regarding transgender service members had been constantly evolving.
Not later than October 1, 2016, DoD will create and distribute a commanders’ training handbook, medical protocol and guidance for changing a service member’s gender in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System (DEERS). 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 announcement included recommendations, plans and timeline of when transgender service members will fully be able to serve openly and authentically.
Reactions from organizations immediately started to pour in.
OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn issued the following statement:
“OutServe-SLDN applauds and welcomes Secretary Carter’s announcement today.
Every day, an estimated 15,500 dedicated, proud and courageous transgender service members have been forced to live quietly and serve in righteous indignation, anticipating the end of the discriminatory ban on open trans service to be lifted in the Armed Forces.
Transgender service members have been awaiting this announcement for months and years: it has long been overdue. Secretary Carter, with his statement, has given a breath of relief and overdue respect to transgender service members who have been and are currently serving our country with undeniable professionalism, the utmost respect and illustrious courage, with the caveat to do so silently. Today, we mark history, once again, by ending the need to serve in silence.
Today, we say (in the words of Attorney General Loretta Lynch) “we see you” and regardless of your gender identity we welcome you to serve this country with honor, dignity, courage and above all openly and honestly.
It would not have been possible, today, without the many voices who have championed open Transgender service. We applaud their tenacity, strength and perseverance including OutServe-SLDN Hall of Heroes Inductee, Aaron Belkin. It was his (Aaron’s) effort as director of the Palm Center, which conducted several studies determining there was “no compelling medical reason” to exclude transgender Americans from military service that significantly brought us to this point.
While we read through all of the details, we do believe that this recommendation from the working group is and will be an inclusive policy for transgender service members to serve openly and authentically.
We know that this announcement isn’t an immediate relief. However, publicly announcing the timeline and official end date of the ban puts a light at the end, of what has been a very long and sometimes painful tunnel, for thousands of transgender service members.
OutServe-SLDN looks forward to working with the Pentagon on implementation and the official end of the ban. We also announce today that we will expand our legal service resources for transgender veterans who wish to update their DD214s with name changes and other record updating in addition our legal services will work with transgender individuals who have been separated and wish to re-enter the military.”
OutServe-SLDN (OS-SLDN) is the largest non-profit, legal services, advocacy and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. With more than fifty chapters and 60,000 subscribers around the world, OS-SLDN supports a professional network of LGBT military personnel and strives to create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org.
A statement was also released by National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq.
“We welcome this historic announcement. Transgender servicemembers have long served their country with honor and courage. As the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy has shown, military readiness is enhanced, not diminished, when our armed forces end discriminatory personnel policies. While some questions about the details of the new policy remain, we hope the armed services will move quickly and decisively to implement the goals of the new policy, which are to permit transgender servicemembers to serve openly and without discrimination.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
[From staff writers and News Releases]