Pentagon revokes controversial transgender ban for U.S. military

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Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday removed one of the final remaining barriers to military service by lifting the Pentagon’s ban on openly transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

“Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly,” Carter said at a news conference. “They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”

Carter continued, “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. We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.”

Alabama 1st District U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was quick to weigh in on the Pentagon’s decision.

“It is frustrating the Pentagon now has a strategy for transgender service members, but they still lack an actual strategy for defeating radical Islamic terrorism,” said Byrne in a news release. “Once again it seems the Obama Administration is more interested in advancing a political agenda than they are in proposing sound policy.”

According to Carter, within 90 days the Pentagon will create a guidebook for commanders on rules regarding transgender service members as well as medical guidance to doctors.

Within one year, transgender individuals will be allowed to join the armed forces, provided they have been “stable” in their preferred gender for 18 months, he continued.

Lifting the transgender ban was the latest move in a series of controversial cultural changes in the military in recent years — from the 2011 decision to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly, to Carter’s December 2015 decision lifting restrictions on women serving in combat roles.

Many critics have called Wednesday’s decision “social engineering” that risks troop readiness and the ability to fight.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a Marine Corps veteran, said President Barack Obama was using the military “to fight culture wars.”
“This is yet another example of President Obama using America’s military to fight culture wars instead of to fight real wars against the enemies of our nation,” Perkins said in a prepared statement.
“Considering the abysmal condition of our military and a decline in readiness, why is this a top priority for the Obama administration?” Perkins continued. “Before changing any policy, the impact on military readiness has to be the first consideration. Defense Secretary Carter has failed to explain how this new policy makes our military more capable of winning wars.”
Rep. Byrne shares Perkins’ concern over troop readiness.
“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am committed to holding the Obama Administration accountable and ensuring their political agenda does not directly harm our military readiness,” Byrne concluded.

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