The Pentagon on Thursday lifted its ban
on transgender people serving openly in the military.
At a news briefing, Secretary of
Defense Ash Carter said that the armed services “don't want
barriers unrelated to a person's qualifications to serve.”
“The Defense Department and the
military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to
remain what we are now – the finest fighting force the world has
ever known,” Carter told reporters. “We don't want barriers
unrelated to a person’s qualifications to serve preventing us from
recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can
best accomplish the mission.”
While the change is effective
immediately, it will take up to a year to implement new policies and
“When the training is complete, no
later than one year from today, the military services will begin
accessing transgender individuals who meet all standards, holding
them to the same physical and mental fitness standards as everyone
else who wants to join the military,” said Carter.
LGBT rights activists cheered the move.
“Today, we join in celebration with
the thousands of brave transgender patriots who will now be able to
serve our nation openly and with the deep respect they deserve,”
HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “Ending this
discriminatory policy not only brings long-overdue recognition to
transgender service members, it also strengthens our military and our
nation. Our military will now be able to recruit the very best
candidates, and retain highly-trained, talented transgender service
members once facing discharge for no other reason than who they are.
History will remember Secretary of Defense Ash Carter for his
leadership in taking this historic and necessary step forward.”