In an interview that aired sunday on ABC’s This Week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he was “open” to reevaluating the Pentagon’s policy on transgender military members. Hagel’s pronouncement—though not an indication of any impending changes—could signal one of the first steps towards a shift in policy.
Responding to a question from Martha Raddatz about revisiting the issue, Hagel said:
The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated, because it has a medical component to it. These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases, don’t always provide that kind of opportunity. I do think it continually should be reviewed. I’m open to that, by the way. I’m open to those assessments, because, again, I go back to the bottom line. Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.
This is an area that we’ve not defined enough.
The Army’s current Standards of Medical Fitness, the last significant update of which came in 2011 to address the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, classifies transgenderism as a psychosexual condition not meeting the standard for military service.
Current or history of psychosexual conditions, including, but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias, do not meet the standard.
The military might not be anywhere close to allowing transgender members, but they could probably stand to revise that woefully outdated perspective.