WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the Department of Defense will adopt a new policy allowing transgender members of the military to serve openly.

“President Biden promised to create a diverse and inclusive administration that reflects our country’s values, and today’s change in policy at the Department of Defense is another step towards making that vision a reality. This change in policy affirms the inherent worth of all service members – regardless of their gender identity, race, religion, national origin, color, or sexual orientation – and will allow thousands of transgender service members to continue serving the country they love as their authentic selves.

“For years, these Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsman, Marines, and Guardians continued to serve despite the harmful policies they were operating under. Our military is the strongest in the world because of the brave individuals who have volunteered to defend our rights, freedoms, and values, and today’s change in policy honors each and every one of them.

“This change in policy allows transgender individuals, who are otherwise qualified, to honorably serve, making our Armed Services a stronger and more diverse force. Thanks to this change in policy, new recruits may enter the service in their preferred gender marker and those serving may serve openly and obtain the medical services and support needed to continue to serve in their preferred gender marker. The policy also addresses the transition and approval process including the roles of the servicemember, commander, and medical community.

“I commend President Biden for seeing our transgender troops for who they are, demanding they receive equal treatment under the law, and for appreciating the many contributions they make to our national security.”