"As with gay and lesbian soldiers, the issue is not whether transgender people can serve in the armed forces. The point is that they -- including the estimated 15,000 of them now serving -- have to cover up their identities. Some refrain from seeking necessary hormone treatment or other medical care, suffering anguish and risking their physical and emotional health.
"And for what? There is 'no medical reason to presume transgender individuals are unfit for duty,' the [Elders] panel wrote. Transgender medical care 'is no more specialized or difficult than other sophisticated medical care the military system routinely provides,' even in combat zones. As for gender-changing surgery, the panel noted that some elective cosmetic surgeries allowed at military medical facilities require similar leave time and risk more serious postoperative complications.
"If Mr. Hagel is still trying to make up his mind, his boss, President Obama, can make it up for him. The question is how fast can the armed forces join the modern world on this issue, not whether they should. The time for lame excuses is long past."
-- The New York Times editorial board, calling on the Obama administration to lift the military's ban on open trans service.