US military repeals ban on transgender service members

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Transgender ban lifted for U.S. military

WASHINGTON, June 30 (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Thursday ended its ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S. military, formally removing the risk to an estimated thousands of U.S. troops who once could have been kicked out of the armed forces due to gender identity.

The repeal, which ends one of the last barriers to serving in the military, comes after a 2011 decision to end the U.S. military's ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving, despite concerns - which proved unfounded - that such a move could be too great a burden in wartime and would undermine battle readiness.

SEE ALSO: Reporter stands up against woman in shocking attack

"We're eliminating policies that can result in transgender members being treated differently from their peers based solely upon their gender identity rather than upon their ability to serve," Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters.

Carter said that within 90 days, the Pentagon would create a guidebook for commanders on rules regarding transgender service members and medical guidance to doctors.

Within one year, transgender individuals would be allowed to join the armed forces, provided they have been "stable" in their preferred gender for 18 months, he said.

Carter said that based on a study carried out by the RAND Corporation, there were about 2,500 transgender active-duty service members and 1,500 reserve transgender service members. Still, Rand's figures were within a range, which at the upper end reached 7,000 active duty forces and 4,000 reserves.

The RAND study, which was also released on Thursday, said the lifting of the ban would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually in medical care, but could reduce costs associated with mental health.

RELATED: June military photos of the month

22 PHOTOS
Military photos of the month - June
See Gallery
Military photos of the month - June

Candidates at the Officer Candidate School (OCS) conduct the Fireteam Assault course aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Jose Villalobosrocha/US Marine Corps)

Marines from the 1st Marine Division wait to board a CH-53E Super Stallion prior to a night raid at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Valero/US Marine Corps)

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division carry equipment through a pond during the team obstacle course at the French Jungle Warfare School near Yemen.

(Photo by Spc. Yvette Zabala-Garriga/US Army)

An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/US Navy)

A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral, Florida, enforces a safety and security zone during a rocket launch off the coast.

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto/US Coast Guard)

A US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress leads a formation of aircraft including two Polish air force F-16 Fighting Falcons, four US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, two German Eurofighter Typhoons and four Swedish Gripens over the Baltic Sea.

(Photo by Senior Airman Erin Babis/US Air Force)

US Midshipmen hold security in the Infantry Immersion Training (IIT) facility on Camp Pendleton, California.

(Photo by Pfc. Rhita Daniel/US Marine Corps)

Soldiers from the 34th Infantry Division evacuate a simulated casualty during training at the National Training Center, located on Fort Irwin, California.

Paratroopers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade provide security during a platoon attack exercise in Wedzryn, Poland, as part of Anakonda 2016.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes/US Army)

A phalanx close-in weapons system (CIWS) fires from the fantail of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, in the Atlantic Ocean.

(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch/US Navy)

BALTOPS 2016 participants steam in formation during an exercise.

(Photo by France Air Force Warrant Officer Cedric Artigues/DVIDS)

USS John C. Stennis' (CVN 74) sailors climb back aboard after jumping from the aircraft elevator during a swim call.

(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel/US Navy)

A crew chief with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing rides in the back of a UH-1Y Venom as it approaches a landing zone, during a training exercise near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron K. Fiala/US Marine Corps)

Paratroopers conduct a static line jump during exercise Swift Response 16 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Swift Response was a multinational-exercise with the US.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss/US Air Force)

Pennsylvania Air National Guardsmen participate in a training exercise at the Pittsburgh International Airport’s Air Rescue and Firefighting facility.

A soldier from the 91st Cavalry Regiment moves out during an air assault mission, during an exercise in Oszsyz, Poland.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Philip Steiner/US Army)

Infantrymen in the 173rd Airborne Brigade pull security from the prone position after exiting a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

(Photo by Spc. Antonio Ramirez/US Army)

High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) are fired during an exercise.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Fries/US Army)

Soldiers fire an M198 howitzer during an exercise in Poland.

(Photo by Pfc. Antonio Lewis/US Army)

A US Army soldier prepares to untie a vehicle that had been dropped into a drop zone during an exercise.

(Photo by Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston/US Army)

A US paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division conducts a parachute landing fall during an airborne operation.

(Photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach/US Army)

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

A Defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon had not yet made a determination on what it would cost to make changes in military facilities, like potentially adding shower curtains, but that it would only be a onetime cost.

"The reality is that we have transgender service members serving in uniform today," Carter said, acknowledging the policy change will have implications for issues including deployment and medical treatment.

He added that at least 18 countries already allowed transgender personnel to serve openly in their militaries.

Carter announced last year that he intended to lift the ban and laid out a series of steps, including a six-month study on the implications of lifting the restrictions. But advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community said the process, which eventually stretched to nearly a year, has taken too long.

Advocates praised Carter's announcement on Thursday and said it followed several moves by the military to be more inclusive in the last decade.

RELATED: LGBT pride month after Orlando shootings

17 PHOTOS
LGBT pride month, pride events in wake of Orlando shooting
See Gallery
LGBT pride month, pride events in wake of Orlando shooting
Mourners gather under a LGBT pride flag flying at half-mast for a candlelight vigil in remembrance for mass shooting victims in Orlando, from San Diego, California, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies are seen behind a girl riding in a bus at the 46th annual Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California, after a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/David McNew
A man carries a sign supporting both the Orlando shooting victims and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the 46th annual Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California, following the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/David McNew
Chris Hemming (L) and Tristan Davison join in a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub during a Pride Month block party in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
People take part in the March of Equality, organized by LGBT and human rights activists in Kiev, Ukraine, June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 12: Women hold onto each other during a brief moment of silence to kick off the annual DC Pride Festival on Pennsylvania Ave. June 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 12: James Sharif, 24, of Alexandria, VA, said about the Orlando shooting, 'I think its a shame that people are doing this to wonderful people Hopefully people will begin to love wholly and all this hate will stop' at the DC Pride Festival June 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - 2016/06/12: Participants take part at the Gay Pride parade in Kiev, Ukraine. Representatives of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) organizations and their supporters took part in the peaceful 'Equality March'.The purpose of the parade is to overcome discrimination and achieve equality for all social groups and minorities in Ukraine. (Photo by Vasyl Shevchenko/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A large LGBT pride flag flies at half-mast during a candlelight vigil in remembrance for mass shooting victims in Orlando, from San Diego, California, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Kristen Jaeger holds a sign of remembrance for mass shooting victims in Orlando, at the 46th annual Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/David McNew
Brandon Joyce carries a sign of remembrance for mass shooting victims in Orlando, at the 46th annual Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/David McNew
A woman looks out her window with the Gay pride flag hanging during a vigil for the Orlando massacre victims in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Ciaran Lithgow of Washington, DC holds a sign of condolence for victims of the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida early this morning in Washington June 12, 2016. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
A parade marcher holds a sign in memory of the victims of the attack on a gay night club in Orlando, Florida at the 46th annual Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood, California, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/David McNew
A man waves a rainbow flag in front of two Boston Police vehicles outside a Pride Month block party in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. June 12, 2016 the same day as the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A Boston Police Officer stands behind flowers left at a Pride Month block party, the same day as the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"I would hope that it showcases the fact that the sky will not fall, the world will not come apart, by us being a more inclusive and open society," said Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, an advocacy group for LGBT military personnel. "I don't think anybody should be concerned or afraid about moving forward with this policy."

But critics have argued that Carter is putting the political agenda of the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama ahead of military readiness.

"Over the next few weeks, we are going to continue to push for actual answers to the readiness questions we've been asking for nearly a year to which we have still not received a response," Republican Representative Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners