Pentagon expected to announce plan to lift the military's transgender service ban

Leaders at the Pentagon are finalizing plans toward lifting the military's ban on transgender service members, according to the Associated Press. U.S. officials say that Defense Secretary Ash Carter asked his personal undersecretary, Ben Carson, to develop a working group of senior military and civilian leaders who will look at the practical effects of allowing transgender military service. An announcement, which is expected this week, will give services six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the legal, medical, and administrative details, including the development of a training to ease the transition.

Though transgender people would still not be able to join the military during that time period, one official said that the goal was to avoid forcing any transgender service members to leave during that period. Studies estimate that there are as many as 15,000 transgender people serving in the active duty military and reserves, with or without the knowledge of their unit commander or peers. Eighteen nations, including Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom allow transgender people to serve openly in the military.

"Every day that this ban stands, transgender service members live in fear that they may be unfairly discharged simply for being themselves. It is time for the United States to change its outdated policy and allow transgender people to serve their country openly and honestly," said Nick Adams, GLAAD's Director of Programs for Transgender Media.

A similarly gradual change occurred with the repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on gay and bisexual people serving openly in the military. Though legislation lifting that ban was approved by Congress late in 2010, months of review and training took place before the decision was implemented in September of 2011.