US Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday that the Pentagon will repeal the current ban on transgender people from serving in the military.
“Americans who want to serve and meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to do so, ” said Carter in a news conference. “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. We have to have access to 100% of America’s population.”
Carter says he has met with many transgender service members who are put in difficult and unfair positions because of the current lack of guidelines and policy.
The ending of the ban takes effect immediately, and transgender people can no longer be discharged on the basis of their gender identity.
The ground work to lift the prohibition began last year when the defense secretary said he would study the “readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.”
Rep. Mac Thornberry, Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, previously said he had a number of longstanding questions for the Pentagon that remained unanswered.
“In particular, there are readiness challenges that first must be addressed, such as the extent to which such individuals would be medically non-deployable,” Thornberry said in a statement.
Carter addressed these concerns Thursday, but eventually dismissed their legitimacy.