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U.S. Department of Defense Ends Ban on Transgender Individuals Serving in the Military

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June 30, 2016
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The United States Department of Defense announced today that it is lifting the ban on transgender individuals in military service. Dru Levasseur, Director of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project, released the following statement in response to today’s announcement:

Transgender women and men deserve to have the same opportunities as their peers to serve in the armed forces, and to have their courageous service rewarded with the same dignity, pride and honor.
—  M. Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Project Director

“We are pleased with the Department of Defense’s decision to finally remove this unjust barrier to military service. The military is our nation's largest employer, and we are encouraged by this critical step to help end government-sanctioned employment discrimination.

“Estimates suggest that 15,000 transgender women and men are currently serving—most in silence—in the various branches of the military and reserves. A 2014 study by the Williams Institute showed that transgender people are more likely to serve than the general population. Despite being willing to make the extreme sacrifices often required by military service, transgender service members continue to endure institutionalized discrimination and stigmatization. Transgender women and men deserve to have the same opportunities as their peers to serve in the armed forces, and to have their courageous service rewarded with the same dignity, pride and honor.

“As the Department of Defense prepares to lift this ban, many other historic barriers to military service come to mind, including race, gender and most recently sexual orientation. None any of these attributes influences a person’s ability or commitment in a military setting. Neither does gender identity.

“We hope that this newest measure will be implemented swiftly and effectively, and Lambda Legal will continue to work to ensure that all transgender soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors will receive the respect they deserve.”