Transgender soldiers could be openly serving in the military soon.
According to sources in the Pentagon and Congress, defense officials plan to review the current ban on transgender troops. The move is similar to what happened shortly before the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military was repealed.
“Recognizing that our openness to diversity is one of the things that have allowed us to be the best in the world, we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told troops at an LGBT pride event in June.
He added that inclusion is important to national security. “And we must start from a position of inclusivity, not exclusivity. Anything less is not just plain wrong; it’s bad defense policy, and puts our future strength at risk.”
The plan has not been officially announced, but it could be unveiled as early as July 14.
Earlier this year, Carter said transgender people should not prevented from serving on the basis of their gender identity, NBC News reported.
Carter is expected to announce a six-month review by a “working group” on the inclusion of transgender people in the military. “The working group will evaluate any objective, practical impediments to such service and recommend exceptions that prove necessary,” the Pentagon said in briefing materials given to Congress.
UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates about 15,500 transgender people currently serve in the military.