QUEER VOICES

Gay U.S. Veteran Sounds Off On Military's Plan To Lift Ban On Transgender Soldiers

Author and journalist Rob Smith joined HuffPost Live this week to discuss news that the U.S. military will soon lift its ban on transgender people. 

The openly gay Smith, who served in the military before the 2011 repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said he wasn't surprised by the shift, although he acknowledged it was long overdue. 

"What we wanted from the very beginning was to completely lift the ban on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers," Smith, who is the author of Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming Of Age As A Gay Man In The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Army, said.

Once transgender people are allowed to serve, he added, the military should consider adding a non-discrimination policy that includes gender identity and sexual orientation. 

"We can't have the ability for trans soldiers to serve openly and not have them be protected from that discrimination," he said.

While roughly 15,500 transgender people are estimated to be currently serving in the military, almost all of them are forced to do so in secret since the Department of Defense's current policy forbids openly transgender individuals from serving.

PHOTO GALLERY
Iconic Transgender Moments