U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 2014.
Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images
May 11, 2014 3:40 PM EDT

Correction appended, May 12, 2014

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday he’s “open” to a review of the military’s ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces.

Appearing on the ABC program This Week, Hagel said the Pentagon should “continually” review its policies on the matter, the New York Times reports.

“Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it,” Hagel said.

While the ban on gay men and women in the service has been lifted, Hagel said the issue of transgender people in the service was “a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it.” Guidelines from the Defense Department currently describe transgender people as having cases of “paraphilia” and sexual deviance.

Approximately 15,000 transgender people serve in the military and the National Guard and Reserve, according to March figures from a panel associated with San Francisco State University.


Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of the ABC program Hagel appeared on. He appeared on This Week.

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