Bill would lift ban on transgender troops

Bill would lift ban on transgender troops
© Getty Images

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is drafting legislation that would scrap the Defense Department’s ban on transgender people in the armed forces.

“The current ban has hurt our troops and damaged our national defense for too long,” Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote earlier this month in a “Dear Colleague” letter aimed at garnering co-sponsors to her bill.

“Many in uniform endure tremendous challenges and setbacks — emotional, financial and professional — because they are forced to serve in silence,” she added. 

Speier said members “have the opportunity to follow through on our promise to support our troops, no matter their gender identity. Now is the time to allow our transgender troops to serve openly and honestly.” 

A spokesman for Speier’s office said she could introduce the legislation next month.

Earlier this month the Pentagon revamped its military equal opportunity policy to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members from discrimination and harassment.

“Recognizing that our openness to diversity is one of the things that have allowed us to be the best in the world, we must ensure that everyone who's able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during DOD’s Pride Month Ceremony.

In March, Carter indicated that he is open to the idea of openly transgender people serving in the military. His comments were quickly endorsed by the White House.