While transgender soldiers are still prohibited from serving openly, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs must now approve their removal

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military families, responded to the news that the Army has officially made a policy change regarding dismissal of transgender service members, who are still prohibited from serving openly. Removal of a transgender service member from the Army must now be approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, rather than by local unit commanders.

“Let’s be clear. While this is a huge step in the right direction, our transgender soldiers and their families are still threatened by outdated regulations,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway. “We need Secretary Carter to step up, take action, and order the comprehensive review of these outdated regulations. Transgender service members sacrifice so much for our nation, and they should be able to serve openly, honestly, and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. A service member’s gender identity has nothing to do with the ability to get the job done.”

The news that the Army was considering this policy change first broke on February 16th, and finally became official through an administrative publication directing the change, as first reported by BuzzFeed News.

The news of the change in the Army’s policy comes soon after the new Secretary of Defense commented on transgender service members at a town hall event in Kandahar, Afghanistan. When asked by AMPA member and Navy LCDR Jesse Ehrenfeld, “What are your thoughts on transgender service members serving in an austere environment like this here in Kandahar?”, Secretary Carted replied, “I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them.”

Just prior to the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, a similar change requiring a higher level of approval for the removal of gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members was implemented.