A report released Thursday concludes
there is “no compelling medical reason” for the military's
continued ban on transgender service.
The Pentagon's exclusionary policy
remains in place despite repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” which
prohibited gay troops from serving openly.
Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who served as U.S.
Surgeon General from 1993 to 1994, co-chaired the Transgender
Military Service Commission, which produced the report.
“The ban on transgender service has
long been a policy in search of a rationale,” Elders said in a
statement. “We looked hard for any type of sound rationale and
found none. Reforming the policy is really a simple matter of
updating references to outdated medical science and removing
unnecessary barriers to enlistment and retention.”
The report found the ban to be an
“expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for
the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel” currently in
“Medical regulations requiring the
discharge of transgender personnel are inconsistent with how the
military regulates all other medical and psychological conditions,”
the report found.
Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm
Center, a research initiative of the department of political science
at San Francisco State University, said the report “challenges U.S.
policymakers and political leaders to reassess why the military still
bans transgender personnel when the policy has outlasted its
The policy, unlike “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell,” is not regulated by federal statute, and could be eliminated
by the president, Belkin said.
In remarks to the AP, Belkin added:
“It's going to take some leadership from the White House and the
Defense Department to chart a course forward. But what we know is,
based on the evidence, the Pentagon doesn't have a reason for
discrimination. What Washington does with that, is yet to be