New defense secretary expresses openness toward transgender troops

Washpost

The Washington Post
By Sandhya Somashekhar
February 23, 2015

Gay rights groups on Monday called on the military to lift its ban on transgender service members, after new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter suggested over the weekend that being transgender should not alone preclude a person from serving.

“I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them,” Carter said Sunday during a question-and-answer session with troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to a transcript posted on the Pentagon’s Web site.

Although he has not closely studied the military’s policy, “I come at this kind of question from a fundamental starting point, which is that we want to make our conditions and experience of service as attractive as possible to our best people in our country,” he told the troops. “And I’m very open-minded about — otherwise about what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That’s the important criteria. Are they going to be excellent service members?”

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