The Pentagon has announced that, as of July 1st, it will no longer prohibit openly transgender citizens from serving in the armed forces. The lifting of the ban comes 5 years after the federal government decided to remove the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. It also comes less than a week after the US Army greeted its first ever openly gay secretary.
But just like the lifting of restrictions on gays and lesbians serving in the military, the move to lift the ban on openly transgender service members is not without its critics.
“If reports are correct, I believe Secretary Carter has put the political agenda of a departing administration ahead of the military’s readiness crisis,” Republican Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee said in a statement.
Others praised the move as a huge step forward for transgender rights.
“Our transgender service members and their families are breathing a huge sigh of relief,” said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association.
The plan for removing the ban does not address specific details such as policies on housing and group showering. Those components will be handled by the respective leaders of the different military branches. One issue that has proven particularly contentious is how long transgender recruits would have to serve before being eligible for gender reassignment surgery.
Current estimates say that out of the 1.3 million men and women serving in the armed forces at any given time, only 2,500 are transgender, 65 of whom would seek medical treatment each year.