U.S. Dept. of Defense Lifts Ban on Transgender Military Service

Secretary Ash Carter announced today Transgender Service Members will be able to openly serve their country. Fair Wisconsin applauds this policy change and Secretary Carter’s leadership on the issue. Allowing Service Members to serve authentically creates a win-win scenario for Dept. of Defense and its employees. DOD leaders understand what matters most is an individual’s performance and character. Those traits are independent of gender identity.

While this has been a collaborative effort between DOD, medical experts, and advocacy groups like SPART*A, the Palm Center, and others, it was made possible, largely, because of the brave Transgender men and women serving the Active and Reserve Components who have pushed the issue by coming out to their commands over the past two years. The change also brings the US Armed Forces to parity with 18 of our allies who have had Transgender members serving openly for years.

The previous policy was based on 1970s-era information.  Since then, science and medicine have evolved. As Secretary Carter said last year, DOD is a learning organization and one which must continue to evolve if we are to recruit the best and the brightest and maintain our status as the best fighting force in history.

This policy change means 14,000+ Service Members have had their identities validated by the nation’s largest employer. Many Transgender Service Members are already top rated in their units. Allowing them to serve authentically will only increase their job performance and enhance individual and unit readiness. Transgender Service Members can now receive medically necessary care without fear of reprisal. The Department, at last, will be an Equal Opportunity Employer where now, and only now, no one is left behind.

– COL (Ret.) Sheri Swokowski, Fair Wisconsin Education Fund Vice-Chair