An independent commission led by a former U.S. surgeon general has
concluded there "is no compelling medical reason" for the U.S. armed
forces to prohibit transgender Americans from serving and that President
Barack Obama could lift the decades-old ban without approval from
Congress, according to a report being released Thursday.
"We determined not only that there is no compelling medical reason for
the ban, but also that the ban itself is an expensive, damaging and
unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450
transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, Guard and
reserve components," said the commission led by Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who
served as surgeon general during Bill Clinton's first term as
president, and Rear Adm. Alan Steinman, a former chief health and safety
director for the Coast Guard.
At least a dozen nations, including Australia, Canada, England and
Israel, allow military service by transgender individuals. Transgender
rights advocates have been lobbying the Pentagon to revisit the blanket
ban in the U.S. since Congress in 2010 repealed the law that barred gay,
lesbian and bisexual individuals from openly serving in the military.
"At this time there are no plans to change the department's policy
and regulations which do not allow transgender individuals to serve in
the U.S. military," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a defense