WASHINGTON (CBS SF) — President Obama is supporting a push by newly appointed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military.

The U.S. military currently bans transgender people from serving, through it’s estimated 15,500 transgender people are serving in secret, according to a 2014 UCLA School of Law report.

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“I’m very open-minded about … about what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That’s the important criteria,” Carter said while speaking at a military town hall in Kandahar, Afghanistan over the weekend.”Are they going to be excellent service members? And I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude (transgender enlistees).”

Press secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama agrees with Carter that the military should reconsider its current ban on transgender service members.

“I can tell you that 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 from the Secretary of Defense,” Earnest told reporters on Monday.

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Congress lifted the ban on openly gay and lesbian soldiers in 2010, but current military regulations require the dismissal of service members identifying as transgender.

Despite the changing tune in the Defense Department and White House, there is currently no specific review underway to lift the ban on transgender enlistees.



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