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US Military Considers Lifting Ban on Transgender Personnel

  • VOA News

FILE: US Soldiers in Kirkuk.

FILE: US Soldiers in Kirkuk.

The U.S. military will consider allowing transgender individuals to join, and there will be a six-month study into the issue.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ordered the review Monday, saying the "Defense Department's current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions."

Carter said he is creating a working group to review current policies banning transgender individuals. However, he said the group will begin the process with "the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified."

The secretary said that during the six-month review process, any decisions to discharge transgender military personnel will be referred to his personal undersecretary, Brad Carson. Carson will also head the working group.

"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," Carter said.

In 2011, the U.S. military formally ended its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that allowed gays to serve only if they did not reveal their sexual orientation.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was instituted in 1993 during the administration of President Bill Clinton, as a compromise to the complete ban

on homosexuals in the military. During the nearly two decades the policy was in effect, about 14,000 members of the U.S. military were kicked out for revealing their orientation.

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