POLITICS

Chuck Hagel: Military's Transgender Ban 'Should Be Reviewed'

05/11/2014 10:09 am ET | Updated May 12, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday he believes the military's ban on transgender Americans serving in the armed forces "should be reviewed."

While the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was repealed in 2010, transgender individuals are still prohibited from serving.

In an interview with ABC's "This Week," Hagel said he's "open" to reconsidering the ban.

“I do think it continually should be reviewed," he told ABC's Martha Raddatz. “I'm open to those assessments, because, again, I go back to the bottom line, every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it."

Hagel said his biggest area concern with reforming the policy is being able to provide medical support to transgender troops, especially for those in what he called "austere locations."

Earlier this year, an independent commission led by former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Joycelyn Elders found there is no "compelling medical reason" for the ban.

"We determined not only that there is no compelling medical reason for the ban, but also that the ban itself is an expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, Guard and reserve components," read the commission's report.

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