FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 23, 2015
Media Contact: Allyson Robinson
White House Expresses Support for Transgender Military Service
SPARTA Renews Call for a Comprehensive, Department-Wide Review
Washington, DC – One day after Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter indicated support for ending the Defense Department’s de facto ban on transgender military service, the White House expressed agreement in a statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Speaking to reporters at a White House briefing, Earnest said, “The President agrees with the sentiment that all Americans who are qualified to serve should be able to serve, and for that reason, we here at the White House welcome the comments of the Secretary of Defense.” Carter had responded to a question about DoD’s policy barring transgender individuals from military service by saying, “I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them [from serving].”
"To those familiar with how the military chain of command works, the Commander-in-Chief's intent could not be clearer,” said Allyson Robinson, former Army captain and SPARTA Director of Policy. “President Obama has done more to ensure transgender Americans are treated fairly and with respect than all those who've previously held the office combined. Good subordinate leaders take their commander's intent and execute – they get the job done. That's what SPARTA's transgender members, their commanders, and their families are looking to Secretary Carter to do now. It’s time to change this policy."
Over 300 SPARTA’s actively serving members identify as transgender, representing an estimated 15,000 transgender Americans currently serving in uniform, according to a 2014 study by the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law. One of SPARTA’s transgender members was on hand in Kandahar yesterday for Secretary Carter’s supportive remarks. “I wanted to tell him I’m one of those people serving in silence,” the service member, who holds an enlisted rank, said. “I love my job, I’m supported and respected by the people I serve with, and I want to make the military a career. But until the regs are updated, just speaking up for myself could end it all.”
Carter’s original remarks in full can be found at http://www.defense.gov/Transcripts/Transcript.aspx?TranscriptID=5594.
About SPARTA: Founded in 2013, SPARTA is an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who currently serve or have served in the U.S. armed forces and their families. Our mission is to advocate for and support our actively serving LGBT service members, veterans, and their families. As a membership organization, SPARTA exists by and for the LGBT military community. The name SPARTA originated as an acronym for “Servicemembers, Partners, and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All.”