Air Force secretary supports ending ban on openly transgender troops

Deborah Lee James

Deborah Lee James

ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says the ban on transgender troops is likely to be reassessed and should be lifted.

Deborah Lee James

Deborah Lee James

“Times change,” James says in an interview USA Today, indicating that the policy “is likely to come under review in the next year or so.”

“From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve,” she says, when asked whether transgender troops would affect military readiness.

James, 56, is the first secretary of a branch of the U.S. armed forces to support allowing transgender troops to serve, though House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and other members of Congress, have urged the Pentagon to end the ban.

The Williams Institute, a think tank based at the UCLA School of Law, estimates as many as 150,000 transgender individuals have served in the U.S. armed forces, or are currently on active duty.

Supporters of the ban say openly transgender troops would create complications on issues from housing to health care.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this year said the ban should be reviewed, but there has yet to be any movement within the Pentagon.

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