Shane Ortega/Instagram

Secretary Of Defense: We Are Lifting The Ban On Trans Service Members In U.S. Military

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Shane Ortega (Photo: Facebook)

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has confirmed that the Pentagon is working on a plan to allow transgender men and women to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. The current ban on trans service members could be lifted in as soon as six months.

Related: Jeb Bush Thinks Maybe Trans People Shouldn’t Be Banned From Military. Maybe

“The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions,” said Carter in a statement.

“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have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines — real, patriotic Americans — who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.”


Carter, who has been supportive of trans soldiers since he took office in early 2015, added that U.S. 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.”

The DoD will create a working group to examine medical, legal, and administrative issues, “with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact.”

Related: President Obama Supports Lifting Ban On Transgender Service Members

Until the ban is lifted, Under Secretary of Defense Brad Carson will take over any discharges for those diagnosed with “gender dysphoria,” the diagnosis still used by the Armed Forces and American Psychiatric Association.

It’s expected that Carson will not oust any current service members for their gender identity during this process.

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“We are elated at the announcement that soon officially the transgender military ban will be eliminated,” retired Navy Seal Kristin Beck and active-duty Army Sergeant Shane Ortega, the two most prominent trans activists in the military, said in a joint statement.

House leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi added that implementation of the DoD plan means “America moves closer to fulfilling our fundamental ideals of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for all.”


Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.