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Trans People to Openly Serve in the Military by Early Next Year

Army Training
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The Pentagon has introduced a plan to do away with the 'outdated, confusing, inconsistent' regulations barring transgender soldiers from serving openly. 

While the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" allowed lesbian, gay, and bisexual soliders to serve openly in the armed forces, an estimated 15,000 transgender soldiers still faced discrimination. The Pentagon announced a plan Monday, July 13, to remove what is widely considered the final barrier to all Americans being able to enlist, while implicitly acknowledging the service of those thousands of trans individuals.

"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have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines -- real, patriotic Americans -- who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that's contrary to our value of service and individual merit," Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said. "The Defense Department's current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions."

The majority of trans soldiers have had to keep their identity a secret or face expulsion, but this new initiative will keep any from being forced ouit of the military. For example, Kristin Beck, a transgender former Navy Seal who is currently running for Congress in Maryland, has been open about her identity after leaving the military, with a documentary titled Lady Valor screening at film festivals and available on Netflix. "I've been Conan (the Barbarian), and I've been Barbie," she told the Washington Post. "But both parts make up who I am."

Defense Secretary Carter has opposed the ban on trans personnel since taking over the Pentagon earlier this year, is creating a working group to assess the impact of ending the current policy over the next six months. The group is most likely a fomality as the heads of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps are all on board with the plan.

"At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified," Carter said in a statement.

According to the AP, some key concerns the group will consider include:

whether the military would conduct or pay for the medical costs of surgeries and other treatment associated with any gender transition, as well as which physical training or testing standards transgender individuals would be required to meet during different stages of their transition.

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