New York, NY – The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) today joins advocates across the nation in praising the U.S. Department of Defense for lifting the ban on open transgender military service once and for all. “Effective immediately, service members may no longer be involuntarily separated, discharged or denied reenlistment solely on the basis of gender identity. Service members currently on duty will be able to serve openly,” the Pentagon said in a statement. It is directing the military branches to implement the policy over a one-year period, addressing housing, recruiting, and uniforms for transgender service members.
In making the announcement today U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said:
“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.”
Last July, Secretary Carter announced the formation of a six-month working group to study the “policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.” Nearly a year later, the ban is finally ending.
Statement from TLDEF Staff Attorney Noah Lewis :
“We, along with thousands of advocates across the country, are thrilled to see an end to the outdated and discriminatory transgender military ban. For far too long brave and dedicated transgender military personnel have had to choose between serving their country and being their true selves. American taxpayers have paid a huge price in lost talent. We support the Pentagon’s comprehensive plan to take all necessary steps to implement this new policy throughout the military. Lifting the ban was long overdue.
“The Pentagon’s policy barring transgender people from serving harmed the thousands of transgender people courageously putting their lives on the line despite the constant fear that they could be discharged at any time just because of who they are. Some transgender people paid the ultimate price fulfilling their duty, even as they were barred from being their authentic selves and forced to serve in silence.
“The United States now joins 18 other countries, including our close allies Australia, Canada, England, and Israel, in allowing transgender people to serve openly. This is a huge moment for equality in our nation’s history.
“We commend all of the brave transgender men and women who have sacrificed their lives in silence and all those who are serving our country with distinction today. Like all members of the armed forces who continually put their lives on the line, transgender service members will now finally receive the respect and dignity that come with serving openly.”