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Nancy Pelosi wants to change federal regulations to let transgender people serve openly in the military

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is calling for a change to a decades-old military regulation so transgender people can serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

"Leader Pelosi believes there is no place for discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces, including on the basis of gender identity," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told the Washington Blade last week.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supports a change to federal regulations to allow transgender people serve in the military. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Gender identity refers to a person's own sense of their gender, which doesn't necessarily correspond to their gender at birth.

Under current Defense Department regulations, people are disqualified from serving in the military if they've had a sex change. According to the Washington Blade, the rule also bans anyone with a "history of psychosexual condition… including but not limited to transsexualism… exhibitionism, transvestitism, voyeurism and other paraphilias."

The paper also cited a study that estimated as many as 15,500 transgender people might already be serving in the military without having told anyone of their transgender status.

But while the Defense Department's regulation could be changed unilaterally by the Obama administration, the White House indicated last week it has not started this process. The White House has supported a review of the policy by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, but so far, no action has been taken.

When asked by reporters about the status of this review, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he didn't know if it was an issue that came up during President Barack Obama's meeting with Hagel last week. Earnest also passed the buck to the Defense Department.

"I'd refer you to the Department of Defense who should be able to give you an update in terms of the status of that report and when you can expect it to be finalized," he said.

When asked whether Obama would call for allowing transgender people to serve in the military, Earnest said, "I don't know the answer to that."

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