US: White House backs Hagel’s efforts to review transgender military ban

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The White House has tentatively backed a review of the policy banning transgender people from openly serving in the military.

Chuck Hagel, the Defence Secretary, had previously said the ban should “continue to be reviewed”, and that hew was “open” to the idea of allowing trans people to serve.

When asked whether the President backed the reforms yesterday, White House Press Spokesman Jay Carney said that the White House supports Hagel’s efforts.

According to the Washington Blade, Carney said: “The president speaks with Secretary Hagel regularly, meets with him weekly.

“I don’t have a readout on all his conversations, but I would certainly point you to what Secretary Hagel said and certainly we support his efforts in this area.

“I haven’t spoken to him directly about this issue, but I would note what Secretary Hagel said and that we support him.

Hagel had said:“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.”

He has since clarified that he is yet to order a formal review of the policy, saying: “I’ve not asked for a specific task force.

“I’ve not asked for a specific study. I would want to hear more from individuals who are close to this issue, know this issue, who I would value their judgement and their direction on.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Transgender Center for Equality, told the Blade: “It is wonderful to hear that the White House agrees with the Secretary about the need to update these outdated and discriminatory policies.

“There are currently 15,000 trans service members. Having reasonable and modern policies that guide their service is in everyone’s interest and is good for military readiness and national security.

“Clearly this issue is now on the agenda. Now we need to push for a quick analysis and implementation.”

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a report recommended an end to the blanket ban on trans people serving in the military, which she said was made on outdated medical grounds.

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