Currently, being transgender is considered a mental disorder that could get you dismissed from the military—but that may change soon. On Monday, a Pentagon working group will begin preparations for dismantling the ban.

“The working group will start with the assumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified, and shall present its recommendations to me within 180 days,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday.

The group will reportedly work to figure out where the estimated 15,500 transgender individuals currently serving will be housed, what uniforms they’ll wear and what sorts of medical services they’ll be able to receive.

USA Today reports:

Earlier this month, Carter announced that decisions on discharging transgender troops, who are barred for medical reasons from serving, would be raised to the top levels of the Defense Department. Each of the services in recent months had made it more difficult for commanders to relieve transgender troops from duty by placing the decision in the hands of a senior civilian.

Effective July 13, transgender troops cannot be discharged or denied re-enlistment unless the top Pentagon official for personnel, Brad Carson, gives his “personal approval,” the memo says.

The military has been making a concerted (if terribly slow) effort to make itself more tolerant: just a few years ago it repealed its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” which essentially acted as a ban on homosexuality, and it opened up ground combat positions to women.

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“As I’ve said before,” Carter said in a press release, “we must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve.”


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