Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: Military’s Transgender Policy ‘Continually Should Be Reviewed’

May 11, 2014 8:37am

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that he believes the ban that prohibits transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military should be reviewed.

“I do think it continually should be reviewed,” Hagel said. “I’m open to that.”

After the 2010 repeal of the policy barring gay and lesbian service members from being open about their sexuality, known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” activists turned their attention to the transgender policy, calling on the military to allow transgender individuals to serve openly. But there has been no review of the ban. Earlier this month, a Pentagon spokesperson told Slate, “At this time there are no plans to change the department’s policy.”

But in an exclusive interview that aired on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Hagel said he’s now ready to reconsider the ban.

“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,” he said. Transgender issues are “an area that we’ve not defined enough.”

Hagel said his biggest concern is providing the medical support necessary to support transgender individuals, especially if they are stationed in what he called “austere locations.”

A recent commission, co-chaired by a former U.S. surgeon general, found that there was no “compelling medical rationale” for not allowing transgender military service.

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