Defense Secretary: Transgenders welcome to serve in U.S. military

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( – Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday that the U.S. will allow transgender people to serve in the military.

Carter outlined three reasons why the change was necessary.

“The first and fundamental reason is that the Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now – the finest fighting force the world has ever known. Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said.

Secondly, he said, “the reality is that we have transgender servicemembers serving in uniform today, and I have a responsibility to them and to their commanders to provide them both with clearer and more consistent guidance than is provided by current policies.”

And third, it’s “a matter of principle,” Carter said.

“Americans who want to serve … should be afforded the opportunity to compete to do so. After all our all-volunteer force is built upon having the most qualified Americans, and their profession of arms is based on honor and trust,” he said.

— Written by Melanie Hunter