US: Statement by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Transgender Policy

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter,  July 11, 2015. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt/ Released.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter , July 11, 2015. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt/ Released.

The American Secretary of Defense has issued a statement (13th July) on changes to current Transgender policy in the military. The current policy is outdated, causes uncertainty, and distracts commanders from core missions, he said, and he is setting up a working group to examine the implications of welcoming transgenders to serve openly in the military.

He stated that the US military was a learning organisation, and over the years has gone through various changes, for example, repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and throughout that time “transgender men and women in uniform have been there with us, even as they often had to serve in silence alongside their fellow comrades in arms”.

He stated:

“The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions. At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit”.

The working group will study policy over the next six months, and will start with the presumption that Transgenders can serve openly without adverse impact on the military, unless practical impediments are identified.

Carter continued:

“As I’ve said before, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Going forward, the Department of Defense must and will continue to improve how we do both. Our military’s future strength depends on it”.



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