Move expected as early as next week, Defense Department spokesperson says
The Pentagon is expected to announce the decision lifting the ban on transgender service members in the coming weeks, possibly as early as next week, a Defense Department spokesman said. — Photo: Saul Loeb/Agence Frabce-Presse/Getty Images
WASHINGTON—The U.S. military is preparing to lift its prohibition on transgender service members as early as next week, ushering in a cultural change in the armed forces, a Defense Department spokesman said.
The move comes after the Obama administration lifted measures that prevented women from taking certain combat roles and stopped the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly.
Eric Pahon, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said the Pentagon would issue the decision lifting the ban on transgender service members in the coming weeks, possibly as early as next week. A number of details must still be finalized before the decision can go ahead, the official said.
“They have really taken their time to make sure they have come up with a policy that balances the needs of service members and mission readiness,” Mr. Pahon said.
For years, transgender soldiers effectively have been barred from serving openly in the U.S. military. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter vowed to change the policy last year. He recently faced criticism for delays in implementing the shift.
Mr. Carter said during an appearance in Colorado Springs last month that the military was working through a careful and thorough implementation plan. He denied that the delays were a reflection of any impasses in the process.
“There aren’t any hang-ups,” Mr. Carter said, describing the matter as a complicated issue. “We know exactly where we’re going. I established the direction some time ago.”