“Outdated,” or there for a reason?
Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that he is taking steps to reverse a longstanding ban on open military service by transgender people.
Carter said that he has asked a panel of senior Pentagon officials to study the affect transgender service members will have on military procedure, as well as what it will take to adapt current procedures to accommodate the new policy.
More via CNN:
Carter made the announcement in a memo outlining a pair of directives to both study the effect of transgender service men and women over the next sixth months, as well as adding the new protocol that any personnel diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender will have their paperwork for dismissal from the military reviewed at the highest personnel levels in DOD.
“At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite,” Carter wrote in his statement. “Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.”
Get prepared for a blitz, because the mainstream media is excited:
Allowing transgender troops to serve openly is an important step towards a stronger, more inclusive military. http://t.co/FnE3Xstp9s
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) July 14, 2015
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) July 13, 2015
This morning in my coverage of the world’s reaction to the nuclear deal with Iran, I pointed out that in situations like these, the simple instance of an initial policy rollout ups the chances that that policy will eventually end up on the books—no matter how controversial.
Ash Carter is hedging his bets with this one; he’s under pressure from the White House to create a “more inclusive,” friendlier military. Four years ago, gays gained the ability to serve openly; this, however, is a natural progression not in policy, but in narrative.
The White House—and progressives at large—have the momentum on gender issues. The fall of DOMA, the ruling in Obergefell, and a shift in public sentiment all contribute to a conducive atmosphere for Carter to officially float this policy change.
Last month, when Carter addressed an LGBT pride month event at the Pentagon, he discussed diversity at length but made no specific mention of transgender military service.
“Embracing diversity and inclusion is critical to recruiting and retaining the force of the future. Young Americans today are more diverse, open, and tolerant than past generations,” he said. “If we’re going to attract the best and brightest among them to contribute to our mission of national defense, we have to ourselves be more diverse, open, and tolerant, too.”
The move comes as a handful of service members still serving have started to come out publicly as trans, including Jamie Lee Henry, a doctor and major in the Army’s Medical Corps who spoke with BuzzFeed News in June about being a trans person serving in the military today.
Hopefully, DoD will do their duty—but at this point, does anyone really trust the Obama Administration to be honest about cause and effect?DONATE
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