Military Law

Pentagon lifts ban on transgender troops

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The Pentagon lifted a ban on transgender troops Thursday, effective immediately.

Out of 1.3 million active-duty members, between 2,500 and 7,000 are transgender, the Military Times reports. Many have kept it a secret to avoid discharge, according to the New York Times.

“Although relatively few in number, we’re talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

The new policy allows transgender recruits to enlist or be commissioned in the officer corps by July 2017, according to the article. And over the next 90 days, senior military leaders will be developing a plan that addresses things like how transgender service members will transition to new physical fitness standards, when they will follow grooming standards and uniform rules that comport with their gender identity and whether they should be placed in alternative barracks or berthing quarters.

Potential recruits who are transgender are expected to spend at least 18 months in their transitioned gender identity before they can join the military.

Some high-ranking military members expressed concerns about transgender troops harming combat readiness, but several studies have indicated that the opposite would be true, the New York Times reports.

“Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so,” said Carter, who commissioned a Rand Corp. study on the issue. “After all, our all-volunteer force is built upon having the most qualified Americans. And the profession of arms is based on honor and trust.”

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