Pentagon to lift ban on transgender soldiers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Pentagon will end a ban on transgender troops within the next year, according to reports.

A draft memo from The Pentagon has revealed that the United States government plan to lift the ban on transgender troops by May 27, 2016, reports USA Today.

The Pentagon has come under increasing pressure to amend regulations and allow trans people to serve, with the American Medical Association among those calling for reform, and Democratic lawmakers preparing legislation on the issue.

Plans to allow transgender people to join the US Military were first announced in July – with Defence Secretary Ash Carter promising to create a workshop to study the effects removing the ban would have on troops.

In addition, he stated that trans people could serve in the army and any dismissals based on a person’s gender identity would need the highest levels of approval.

It is estimated that the move will effect over 15,000 troops.

The memo also details some of the possible issues that may arise with transgender troops – listing leaves of absences due to hormone therapy or surgery as examples.

Other issues highlighted include medical treatment, uniforms and physical fitness standards – noting that trans troops who are receiving medical treatment may not be eligible for deployment.

The Pentagon is also considering revisiting the previous discharges of transgender troops who have been kicked out of the service, with the possibility of reinstatement. However, the memo also reveals that there is no official record of how many people this may have effected.

Although the US Army repealed their Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for gay and lesbian service personnel in 2011, the change never applied to transgender members, with the defence department still referring to trans people as having “psychosexual conditions.”

Despite this, an estimated 15,500 transgender individuals currently serve in the military and there are believed to be up to 140,000 transgender military veterans.

Last week – in a PinkNews Exclusive – it was revealed that the number of new recruits in the British Army to have disclosed that they are gay since new rules came into effect last year is less than five.

A Freedom of Information request sent to the MoD reveals that out of over ten thousand troops enlisted in the army since November 2014, under five felt they could come out and reveal that they are gay.

Out of 10,590 new troops, less than five said they were ‘homosexual’, ‘other’ or ‘prefer not to say’.