In an unprecedented move, the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the prohibition on transgender individuals serving in the US military "continually should be reviewed."
However, he did not state that the much-criticized policy should be repealed outright. According to Hagel, "every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it."
Since the origins of the US military, transgender individuals have been excluded for service along with gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, until 2011 when the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy made it possible for openly homosexual and bisexual persons to enlist. Transgender individuals, however, were still declared unfit for military service.
Psychological and physical unfitness is rendered as the basis for their exclusion from service. The flawed logic rests on the foundation of the psychiatric establishment's consensus, since revised, that gender identity issues amounted to a mental disorder.
The pitfalls of the approach were further highlighted in a report released by an independent commission, led by a former US surgeon general, in March 2014. The report didn’t find any medical reason for prohibiting transgender Americans from military service.
A statement by the commission read, "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.”
In view of the commission’s report and Hagel’s request to review the blanket ban, a decision on repealing the ban might become a possibility in the near future.