Transgender people might serve openly in the military as early as next year

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It looks like the policy banning transgender individuals from serving openly in the U.S. military could be fully dismantled as early as 2016.

The Associated Press reports that the Pentagon will likely announce plans to lift the ban sometime this week. If successful, the implementation of a more inclusive service policy would impact an estimated 15,000 trans people currently serving.


Although the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" in 2011 allowed Americans to serve openly in the military, regardless of sexual orientation, the move had no impact on trans individuals serving openly. According to Vox, their exclusion is the result of an "incorrect and outdated medical rationale" from the days when being trans was equated with having an "untreatable mental health condition."

While the announcement is expected this week, the AP reports that trans people won't be able to openly enlist for six months.


During that time, military officials will work out a host of issues involved in lifting the ban, ranging from where trans service members will be housed to whether the military will cover fees related to medically/surgically transitioning—though it should be noted that not every trans person opts to transition in that way, or even "transition" at all.

While many hail the expected lifting of the ban as a progressive win, there are members of the trans community voicing their dissent.

In 2013, Dean Spade of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project spoke to BuzzFeed News about why openly serving in the military isn't a priority for the greater trans movement:

The military inclusion campaign is not something that we [in the trans movement] have strategically decided is a good next step for trans politics and it is not something that will improve most trans people’s lives… This is shoddy window dressing for the realities of U.S. militarism, which is bad for the world and certainly bad for populations, like women and LGBT people, who are targets of sexual and gender violence.


And in response to today's news, artist and writer Sophia Banks tweeted a critique on the basis that the military industrial complex is still the military industrial complex—no matter how inclusive it is. When told of the education and health benefits service members receive, she asked why those issues couldn't be addressed outside of a military context.

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