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article imageReport: U.S. could lift ban on transgender soldiers in military

By Nathan Salant     Jul 14, 2015 in Lifestyle
Washington - There could be as many as 15,000 transgender men and women in the U.S. military, although the exact number is understandably not known.
The military does not permit transgender people — those who are born into one gender but identify with and may physically try to become the other — to become soldiers, at least not openly.
But even that taboo might be about to change.
U.S. officials appear to be readying an announcement, expected to be made as early as this week, of the start of a six-month evaluation period on lifting the ban against the transgendered, according to the Associated Press.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter hinted at the decision last month in a speech he gave at Pride Month ceremonies at the Pentagon.
"We believe in getting to a place where no one serves in silence, and where we treat all our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with the dignity and the respect that they deserve," Carter said.
Carter is said to have put his personnel chief, Brad Carson, in charge of setting up a working group of military and civilian leaders to study the implications and costs of such a change to a long understood military tradition.
The panel would be empowered to investigate the impacts of the change and develop guidelines with the intention of implementing it as quickly as possible, possibly within six months.
Plans to form a panel followed weeks of high-level meetings between top military officials at which the heads of the four services asked for time to explore logistics but did not oppose the plan, the AP said.
Instead, the military services raised questions about housing, clothing, bathrooms and medical expenses, including whether they would be required to pay the costs of hormone therapy and other treatment for servicemen and woman who wanted to transition to the other gender, the AP said.
The military has been dealing with the transgender issue since convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning when she released thousands of documents to Wikileaks, sued to require the army to pay for her treatment.
The army has agreed to pay for Manning's hormone therapy, the AP said.
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