Transgender People Likely to Be Permitted to Serve in Military

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 12:46 PM

By John Blosser

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The Obama administration and Department of Defense likely will take action soon to allow transgender military personnel to serve openly, the Washington Examiner reported.

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appear to be firmly behind the proposal contained in a recent report that the United States join with 18 other nations and NATO allies, which currently allow transgender individuals to serve openly in their armed services, according to the Examiner.

The report, from the San Francisco State University's Palm Center think tank's Planning Commission on Transgender Military Service, states, "Our conclusion is that allowing transgender personnel to serve openly is administratively feasible and will not be burdensome or complicated. Three months have passed since Defense Secretary [Chuck] Hagel announced a willingness to review the military’s ban on transgender service, an effort the White House indicated it supports."

Should the report's recommendations be adopted, the military likely would be required to pay for sex change surgery and other medical needs of transgender members and allow them to wear either male or female uniforms, according to The Daily Caller.

In May, Hagel expressed his willingness to review the rules regarding service by transgender individuals, and the White House indicted it was open to such a review.

In 2010, Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" regulation under which more than 13,000 troops had been discharged for being gay since 1993, according to The Washington Post.

At the time, Obama, who had campaigned on a promise to eliminate the ban against gays serving openly in the military, said, "It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor, and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion, or creed."

The report indicates that 15,500 transgender people serve in various branches of the military, but do so secretly. About two dozen transgender service members have been discharged because of it.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, a former deputy surgeon general of the Army  who co-authored the study, said, "From a military officer perspective, we consider honor and integrity to be just essential values. But how can we say that when we’re asking these men and women to lie about who they are? That’s very comparable to the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' piece. To me, it’s just wrong."

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