Well, there goes Cpl. Klinger’s “Section 8″…
WASHINGTON (AP) — Transgender people will be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, the Pentagon announced Thursday, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.
Saying it’s the right thing to do, Defense Secretary Ash Carter laid out a yearlong implementation plan declaring that “Americans who want to serve and can meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so.”
“Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said at a Pentagon news conference.
Under the new policy, by Oct. 1, transgender troops already serving should be able to receive medical care and begin formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon’s personnel system.
A year from now, he said, the military services will begin allowing transgender individuals to enlist, as long as they meet required standards and have been stable in their identified genders for 18 months.
Carter’s announcement comes despite concerns from senior military leaders that the department is moving too fast and that more time is needed to work through the changes. He said he discussed the plans extensively with his military leaders and that, based on their recommendations, he made adjustments to the timeline. He said he has been told that the services now support the timeline.
Under the new policy, transgender troops would receive any medically necessary care including surgery, Carter said.
The new rules also give military commanders flexibility, noting that not all transition cases are the same. Commanders will have the discretion to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, including on job placement, deployments, training delays and other accommodations, based on the needs of the military mission and whether the service members can perform their duties.