On Thursday, Pentagon ended the ban that had been imposed on openly transgender people for serving in the military, which formally removed the risk to about thousands of US troops who could have been thrown out of the armed service because of their gender identity. This repeal brings about the end of one of the last barriers that were imposed on serving in the military. It comes after a decision made in 2011 to end the ban on openly lesbian and gay people serving that had been imposed by the US military. There had been concerns, which later turned out to be unfounded, that this move could actually be a huge burden during war time as it would have an impact on battle readiness.
Ash Carter, Defense Secretary said that they are eradicating policies, which can cause transgender members of the armed forces to be treated differently from their colleagues solely because of their gender identity instead of their abilities. He said that the Pentagon would craft a guidebook for commanders in 90 days on how to lead the transgender members and would also give doctors medical guidance. He said that transgender members would be permitted to join the armed forces within a year.
He said that the Rand Corporation had carried out a study, which revealed that the number of transgender service members serving actively was about 2,500 and 1,500 members were on reserve. Still, the figures provided by Rand were within a range, which reached 7,000 active duty members at the upper end and 4,000 reserves. Carter asserted that in reality, transgender members were serving in uniform even now. He also acknowledged that the change in policy would have implications for issues including medical treatment and deployment. He also stated that there were 18 countries currently allowed transgender people to serve openly in their armed forces.
In 2015, Carter had announced that he intended to remove the ban and had also laid out a number of steps, which included carrying out a six month study on the effects of lifting the ban. However, the advocates for the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender community had said that the process was taking too long because it had already stretched to a year. The announcement on Thursday was praised by advocates and they said that this was one of the several moves that the military had made in the last decade to be more inclusive.
Advocacy groups said that this showed that being an open and inclusive society would not be the cause of disaster. They said that there was no need to be concerned about moving ahead with this policy. Nonetheless, some critics have said that Carter has given more importance to the political agenda of the Democratic administration of Barrack Obama instead of thinking about military readiness. Mac Thornberry, Republican Representative, said in a statement that they would push for answers as far as the question of readiness is concerned in the next few weeks. He said that they had been asking them for a year and had not gotten a response.