On Monday the Pentagon announced all transgender members of the military will now be able to serve openly starting next year, putting an end to the policy that stripped them from the armed forces.
Defense Secretary, Ashton B. Carter, states, “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.”
Carter indicated that the current military regulation was not only “outdated” but also “causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions.” And to make sure that this ruling is effective, Carter issued a directive that would make it difficult for transgender military members to be discharged over the next six months as the new ruling is being established and is requiring all cases to be reviewed by a senior Pentagon official.
According to the William Institute, a center at the University of California that studies the gay and transgender population, there is an estimate of about 15,500 transgender people serving in the military that are concealing their identity. And some of their military peers have sympathy for them whereas others are at risk of being discharged due to the disapproval of another military peer.
Gay rights groups, such as SPARTA applaud this change. In fact Allyson Robinson, an army veteran and director of policy for SPARTA, a group for transgender troops states that transgender troops have been serving openly for a while now in other countries such as Israel, Canada, Britain, and Australia.
“They’ve already proven that questions about ability or physical capabilities aren’t rooted in practicalities, they are rooted ignorance and bias,” said Robinson.