Nearly three years after the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning gay men and lesbians in the military, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has weighed in on what could be the next sexual discrimination battle in the military.
Hagel told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that he is “open” to reviewing the U.S. military’s policy on the prohibition of transgender people serving in the armed forces.
“The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated. It has a medical component to it. These issues require medical attention,” said Hagel. “I do think it continually should be reviewed. I’m open to that by the way. I’m open to those assessments.”
He believes “every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have the opportunity, if they fit the qualifications.”
However, the Defense secretary cautions: “This is an area where we’ve not defined enough.”
New York Times notes:
It remains unclear whether the military will seriously review its ban on transgender people, and President Obama has not addressed the issue specifically. In 2011, speaking to a gay rights group, Mr. Obama said that “every single American — gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender — every single American deserves to be treated equally before the law.”
In March, an independent commission headed by former Clinton Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders stated that there is “no compelling medical reason for the ban, but also that the ban itself is an expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel.”