U.S. military to allow transgender men and women to serve openly

It’s about time.  Trans-folks have been serving in the military for years.

From The Los Angeles Times:  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pentagon-transgender-ban-20160630-snap-story.html

By W.J. Hennagan
June 30,2016

The Pentagon on Thursday lifted a long-standing ban against transgender men and women serving openly in the military, removing one of its last discriminatory hurdles and placing gender identity on par with race, religion, color, sex and sexual orientation.

The announcement by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is part of a fundamental shift in the straight-laced, male-dominated U.S. military, which in 2011 ended discrimination against gays and lesbians. More recently, it opened all combat positions to women and appointed the first openly gay Secretary of the Army, Eric K. Fanning.

“Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said. “We have to have access to 100% of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.”

Ending the transgender ban, which followed an extensive one-year review, will affect a small fraction of individuals serving in the armed forces, or about 0.1% of the approximately 2 million active and reserve members in the U.S military.

Still the social and political ramifications are likely to be felt more broadly. The military has often been a trailblazer in taking steps against discrimination, most notably ending segregation of African Americans in the 1940s.

The move also comes as conservative states like North Carolina and others push to impose new restrictions on transgender men and women, such as requiring them to use public bathrooms based on the gender stated on their birth certificates.

Critics in Congress were quick to respond. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the decision was “the latest example of the Pentagon and the president prioritizing politics over policy.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pentagon-transgender-ban-20160630-snap-story.html

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