On Thursday, San Francisco politicians and residents spoke out in support of the Pentagon and its decision to lift the ban that prevented transgender people from openly serving in the armed forces.
“Transgender Americans may serve openly,” Defense Attorney Ash Carter said of the ban lift. “They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”
While making the historic announcement, Carter said the reality is that there are already transgender people serving, and that those brave people deserve respect. He also added that the policy would open the door to many highly qualified persons who did not feel welcomed in joining the armed forces.
In San Francisco, the move was heralded as a landmark step that would help move the nation toward equality.
“I have to say, I was a little emotional because I think it’s a significant step for the federal government,” remarked Theresa Sparks, who serves as the senior advisor for transgender initiatives to San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. “I served in the military for 3 years during the navy during the Vietnam years…I can’t even imagine trying to serve as an open anything.”
Still, the military and the LGBT community have a storied relationship, and some voiced concern that the workplace culture still needs to do serious work towards becoming an inclusive environment.
“I’m not sure it’s a place I would want most of my transgender friends to be working,” said Seth Ambrose of San Francisco. “But government inclusion does signify something…”