Although the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" allowed lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to serve openly in the U.S. military, transgender Americans were still barred from service under a different policy. But based on recent statements made by the Obama administration, that ban may soon be lifted.
"I don't think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said when asked his thoughts on transgender military personnel serving openly at a troop event in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Sunday (Feb. 22), BuzzFeed News reports.
On Monday, the White House stood by Carter's words. "The president agrees with the sentiment that all Americans who are qualified to serve should be able to serve," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. "And for that reason, we here at the White House welcome the comments from the secretary of defense."
According to Vox: "The ban [on open transgender service]...is based on incorrect and outdated medical rationale. Many medical experts prior to the 1990s viewed transgender people as having an untreatable mental health condition."
Vox also notes that the Obama administration could end the military's policy banning open transgender service without gaining approval from Congress because, unlike "Don't ask, don't tell," the ban is not law. Overturning this ban would affect an estimated 15,450 transgender Americans currently serving in silence.
While the White House isn't taking action to specifically overturn the ban at this time, BuzzFeed News confirms that "a 'routine review' of medical standards that include the transgender service ban had begun in early February."