US: Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel ‘open’ to allowing trans people in military

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that he is “open” to finally allowing trans people to serve openly in the military.

In March, former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders co-authored a report recommended an end to the blanket ban on trans people serving in the military, which she said was made on outdated medical grounds.

Elders wrote: “Removal of the military’s blanket ban on transgender service members would improve health outcomes, enable commanders to better care for their troops, and reflect the federal government’s commitment to reducing disparities in health care access for transgender people.”

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel today said on This Week that he is “open” to a change.

He said: “The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it. These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases don’t always provide that kind of opportunity

“I do think it continually should be reviewed. I’m open to that, by the way.

“I’m open to those assessments because, again, I go back to the bottom line. Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it. This is an area that we’ve not defined enough.”

Hagel is contradicting an earlier statement from a spokesperson who said that the Pentagon has “no plans” to change its medical qualification standards to allow trans people.

Last month, a cryptographic technician spoke up after being discharged from the Navy, after records were discovered referring to him as female.

He said: “They very much gave me the option of you can transition, or you can serve.”

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which prevented openly gay people from serving in the military, was repealed in 2011.