“This policy is an important step toward ensuring that our military is strong and inclusive. It will protect the rights of transgender individuals who already serve in the U.S. armed forces, with minimal impact on the operations of the Department of Defense.

“These changes will involve a very small number of individuals serving in the armed forces, on the order of 0.1 percent of the approximate total of two million active and reserve members in the U.S military. The evidence indicates that modernizing our policy in this way will not meaningfully reduce readiness. In fact, according to research by the RAND Corporation and retired flag officers, it should enhance readiness by enabling commanders to better provide for the needs of the men and women they lead. Similar policies have already been adopted by U.S. allies such as Israel, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“By providing clarity for the service branches and removing an obsolete policy that has made it more difficult for our men and women in uniform to do their jobs, this policy will strengthen, not reduce, the military’s ability to defend the United States.”

In June 2016, Congressman Smith wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in support of the decision to repeal the Department of Defense’s (DOD) outdated policy prohibiting transgender individuals from openly serving in the military and urged the expeditious implementation of this policy change. Ending the ban on ?transgender individuals serving in our military will allow the armed forces to better realize the full potential of all service members and make our nation safer and stronger. Read the full letter here: https://goo.gl/KnhJRL