After reportedly spending almost a year studying the issue, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced today that the US military was ending the ban on transgender people being able to openly serve, as reported by CNN. The lift takes effect immediately with implementation occurring in stages over the next year.
Citing major changes in recent years with the roles of women and LGBT people serving in the military, the lift will also mean transgender service members will receive the same medical coverage as other members. Hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery is included but only if doctors determine the procedure is medically necessary. It is also noted that incoming service members must be “stable” in their gender identity for 18 months before joining.
Carter continued that the military needs to avail themselves of all talent possible to remain “the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”
According to a RAND Corporation study, the Pentagon believes there may be as many as 11,000 transgender active-duty service members and reservists.