Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Says Transgender Troops Should Be Allowed To Serve


Big news! Less than a week into his new gig, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is already shaking things up, and for the better. He says being transgender should not bar one from military service.

Carter spoke to service members in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sunday, in a Q&A, the Pentagon’s web page says. A transcript posted there says, in part:

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I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them.

A statement like that is enough to get an atheist testifying, “Amen!”

Though Carter admits he has not thoroughly examined all the factors and nuances regarding the banning of transgender troops, he stated:

I come at this kind of question from a fundamental starting point, which is that we want to make our conditions and experience of service as attractive as possible to our best people in our country. And I’m very open-minded about — otherwise about what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That’s the important criteria. Are they going to be excellent service members?

Carter’s response comes as the latest bead of water in the LGBTQ rights tsunami currently washing over the country. Great hope for the Obama administration to embrace sanity and take anyone willing to join the military has been swelling since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was removed back in 2011. That hope has certainly been underlined by the growing acceptance of gay marriage in the last four years, as well.

Think tank, the Williams Institute, claims over 150,000 transgender people have served, or are currently serving in the military.

And Carter didn’t beat around the bush on the subject either. Nope, no kicking of the can with vague answers that suggest and dance around but never really make any distinct conclusion clear for him, sir, no sir. Many other military officials have waltzed and marched to that fine tune before him, but Carter spoke his mind quite plainly on the matter, unlike former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who left the matter as saying he was willing to consider a review. Or like Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, more vaguely, keeping her hands off the matter, simply indicated that someday in the foggy future the ban on transgender service members may be lifted. What moxie!

Naturally, transgender advocacy groups praised Carter’s courage and comments immediately after he made them. Carter had been responding to a question regarding transgender troops in constrictive locations, like Kandahar.

Allyson Robinson, the director of policy for an advocacy group pushing for transgender service members – SPART*A – stated:

Secretary Carter is right – being transgender should not exclude anyone from serving in America’s military. Transgender Americans are serving today with honor and distinction, but must serve in silence and forgo medically necessary care to do so. There is no reason for this to continue. Secretary Carter must lead the way by ordering a top-down, department level review of the regulations.

SPART*A also claims at least one member of Carter’s audience at the Sunday Q&A was a transgender service member.

Why should anyone be turned away who is willing to serve in this era of perpetual war, environmental ruin, and terrorism? Clearly Uncle Sam is beginning to see the light.

H/T: washingtonpost.com | Featured image: WikiMedia

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