Former Senior Pentagon Official Disputes Trump Administration Claim that U.S. Military Is Not Ready for​ Transgender Applicants

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Brad Carson, a former senior Pentagon official, refuted the Trump administration's claim today that allowing transgender applicants to enlist in the military would compromise readiness. According to Carson, "the Pentagon had already done most of the preparation and training in anticipation of the lifting of the accession ban before the presidential transition, so to claim that the military is not ready to lift the ban now seems a stretch."

​Carson, who served as acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in the Obama administration​, was in charge of personnel policy for all service members, and deployed to Iraq as a U.S. Navy officer.​

According to Aaron Belkin​, processing transgender applicants does not require anything different from what recruiters and examiners do every day. Belkin said that, "there is nothing special about evaluating a transgender applicant for military service, as recruiters and examiners deal with medical documents for every candidate, and handle the confirmation of identity documents, name changes and the like on a regular basis." Belkin is director of the Palm Center.

A comprehensive 2016 RAND Corporation study found that lifting the enlistment ban would require only minor regulatory revisions. Belkin added that, “The military was ready to lift the enlistment ban one year ago and it is ready to do so today.”

Transgender troops have served openly in the U.S. military for the past 18 months, and have been widely praised by commanders. Eighteen foreign militaries allow transgender troops to serve openly, and none have reported any compromise to readiness.

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About The Palm Center

The Palm Center is an independent research institute committed to sponsoring state-of-the-art scholarship to enhance the quality of public dialogue about critical and controversial issues of the day. Our research has been published in leading social science journals and extensively consulted and cited by US military leaders. The Palm Center seeks to be a resource for scholars, policymakers, journalists, opinion leaders, students and the public at large. For more information, visit us at


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