The Pentagon is reportedly making arrangements to lift the ban on transgender people serving in the military as soon as this week.
The Associated Press reports that once the ban is lifted, the military will have a pre-set transitional period (that language is merely coincidental):
They say the military would have six months to determine the impact and work out details, with the presumption that they would end one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service.
The officials say that during the transition, transgender individuals would still not be able to join the military. Decisions to force out those already serving would have to be referred to a top Defense Department leader.
Around 15,500 transgender individuals currently serve in the military, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute. However, as the policy currently stands, being transgender is considered a mental disorder that would make all of these people unfit to serve. The Pentagon has not publicly disclosed how many transgender service members have been discharged because of their gender identities.
Last month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke at an LGBT pride month event at the Pentagon, during which he called for increased diversity in the armed forces—although he abstained from mentioning transgender service members.
“Embracing diversity and inclusion is critical to recruiting and retaining the force of the future. Young Americans today are more diverse, open, and tolerant than past generations,” he said. “If we’re going to attract the best and brightest among them to contribute to our mission of national defense, we have to ourselves be more diverse, open, and tolerant, too. It’s the only way to compete in the 21st century.”
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