Posted By Melanie Nathan, May 25, 2015.
As the nation commemorates Memorial Day, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) honors the transgender men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty and renews its call for the Defense Department to allow transgender people to serve openly in the United States Armed Forces.
Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman
“On this day set aside to honor the courageous men and women who lost their lives fighting to keep America secure, we pay special tribute to the transgender service members who died serving in silence, barred from being open about who they were. It is heartbreaking to know that they paid the ultimate price, yet could not be authentically themselves. We call on the Pentagon to lift the ban on open military service by transgender people now. The outdated medical regulations keeping the ban in place are harming the more than 15,000 transgender people currently serving in our armed forces.
“Defense Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged this year when asked about open transgender military service: ‘I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them.’ It is time for Secretary Carter to hold true to his word and take the proper steps to dismantle this outdated and discriminatory ban once and for all.
“Our close allies Australia, Canada, England, and Israel, and 14 other countries have successfully integrated transgender people into their militaries. The United States should follow their example. Like all members of the armed forces who continually put their lives on the line, transgender service members deserve the respect and dignity that come with serving openly.”