BREAKING: Defense Secretary Ash Carter Announces US Military’s End To Transgender Service Ban

Via press release from OutServe-SLDN:

Today Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the recommendations from the working group formed last summer on the lifting of the ban on open transgender service. This announcement includes recommendations, plans and timeline to when transgender service members will fully be able to serve openly and authentically.

OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn issued the following statement: “OutServe-SLDN applauds and welcomes Secretary Carter’s announcement today. Every day, an estimated 15,500 dedicated, proud and courageous transgender service members have been forced to live quietly and serve in righteous indignation, anticipating the end of the discriminatory ban on open trans service to be lifted in the Armed Forces.

“Transgender service members have been awaiting this announcement for months and years: it has long been overdue. Secretary Carter, with his statement, has given a breath of relief and overdue respect to transgender service members who have been and are currently serving our country with undeniable professionalism, the utmost respect and illustrious courage, with the caveat to do so silently.

“Today, we mark history, once again, by ending the need to serve in silence. Today, we say (in the words of Attorney General Loretta Lynch) “we see you” and regardless of your gender identity we welcome you to serve this country with honor, dignity, courage and above all openly and honestly.

PHOTO CREDIT: Transgender service members from SPARTA pose with SPARTA’s Sue Fulton (far left) and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (second from right). #TransMilitary.

UPDATE: Lambda Legal reacts.

“We are pleased with the Department of Defense’s decision to finally remove this unjust barrier to military service. The military is our nation’s largest employer, and we are encouraged by this critical step to help end government-sanctioned employment discrimination.

“Estimates suggest that 15,000 transgender women and men are currently serving—most in silence—in the various branches of the military and reserves. A 2014 study by the Williams Institute showed that transgender people are more likely to serve than the general population. Despite being willing to make the extreme sacrifices often required by military service, transgender service members continue to endure institutionalized discrimination and stigmatization. Transgender women and men deserve to have the same opportunities as their peers to serve in the armed forces, and to have their courageous service rewarded with the same dignity, pride and honor.

“As the Department of Defense prepares to lift this ban, many other historic barriers to military service come to mind, including race, gender and most recently sexual orientation. None any of these attributes influences a person’s ability or commitment in a military setting. Neither does gender identity.

“We hope that this newest measure will be implemented swiftly and effectively, and Lambda Legal will continue to work to ensure that all transgender soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors will receive the respect they deserve.”