The Pentagon Has Just Lifted The Ban on Transgender Troops
Today Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that, as of July 1st, the ban on transgender troops will officially be lifted. This is the same Ash Carter who ordered all military roles, like combat positions, to be open to women. Carter had been researching the issue for a year and announced that, in addition to lifting the ban, transgender troops will also receive the same medical coverage and protocols as any other member of the military and all medical care that doctors deem necessary.
This is a historic day for America—one that we can only hope will be met with support rather than the usual onslaught of bigotry. Racism and discrimination has been all too prevalent during this election cycle, and even more xenophobia has started trickling in all the way from England since it decided to separate from the EU.
“Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so,” Defense Secretary Carter said. “After all, our overall force is built on having quality Americans and the profession of arms is based on honor and trust. Army Chief of Staff General Milley recently reminded us of this when he said, ‘The United States Army is open to all Americans who meet the standard, regardless of who they are.’ Embedded within that constitution is that very principle—that all Americans are free and equal. And we, as an army, are sworn to protect that very principle. And we are sworn to even die for that principle. So if we in uniform are willing to die for that principle, then we in uniform should be willing to live by that principle.”
For 17 years, the military had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevented gay, bisexual, and lesbian American citizens from joining the military. They were treated like second class citizens until 2011, when Obama repealed the policy. Today this same discrimination ends for transgender people. Let’s not forget there are currently about 15,500 transgender troops already serving in the military who are forced to hide their identity for fear of being kicked out.
To all the haters out there saying this will weaken our troops, the joke is on you. With the lifting of this ban, our military will be stronger than ever.
Stay tuned to Milk for more LGBTQ news.
Original imagery by Kathryn Chadason. Additional image via Jennifer Peace.