By Alex Temblador
Yesterday, the Pentagon had some amazing news for the world: they will stop barring transgender servicemen and women from serving openly in the military. With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010, it did not repeal the ban on transgender persons serving openly. However, now it looks like 15,000 transgender men and women might be able to serve openly in as little as six months.
Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, had some great comments on the Pentagon’s announcement:
“The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions.
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have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines — real, patriotic Americans — who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.”
So why will it take six months to end the ban on open transgender military service? The Department of Defense will begin a six-month study that will allow “the services time to methodically work through the legal, medical and administrative issues and develop training to ease any transition.”
As Aaron Belkin, executive director of the Palm Center, which promotes the study of LGBT people in the armed forces, stated: “With [DADT], all you needed to do was snap your fingers to lift the ban. It was clear how repeal would work. In this case it makes sense to review administrative policies to guide commanders in inclusive policy.”
During this six-month study, transgender persons could not openly apply for military service and transgender individuals could still run the risk of discharge, although they are working with the goal in mind of not having any transgender service men or women being discharged or leaving during that time.
By allowing transgender Americans to serve openly for their country, the military would effectively be taking one of the last big steps toward tolerance and honoring the LGBT individuals in their ranks. We hope that the Department of Defense will take the correct measures toward allowing transgender Americans to serve openly and that the policies they consider such as housing, medical, and bathroom use will respect these individuals and their gender identity during their service.
We hope it’s a short six months for we are ready to see transgender Americans serving openly.