Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced today a much-anticipated end to the ban on open service by transgender service members. The announcement comes more than a year after Secretary Carter promised that the Department of Defense would update the outdated regulations which prevent open service by transgender service members and the launch of a working group to assess the impact of the change and work out the details.
“Words cannot express how much this announcement means to so many of our transgender service members and their families — brave men and women who have proudly served our nation in silence for far too long,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We are incredibly grateful to Secretary Carter for bringing this promise to fruition. While we still have progress to make, today is truly historic and our military families will be stronger as a result of these critically important and long overdue changes.”
“This historic change means that I can finally serve openly and proudly as who I am — a soldier who loves my country and just happens to be transgender,” said AMPA member Nick Melvin, who is currently stationed in Hawaii. “A huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulder. I can continue serving my nation and support my family, which means the world!”
With the announcement today, Secretary Carter said, “This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force,” Carter said. “We’re talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can’t allow barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission.”
There are an estimated 15,500 transgender service members currently serving.