Pentagon lifts ban on transgender service members serving openly - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pentagon lifts ban on transgender service members serving openly

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(NBC) -


Transgender men and women will be allowed to openly serve in the military, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on Thursday — the latest move in a series of historic shifts on gender policy for the nation's military.

"This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force," Carter said. "We're talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can't allow barriers unrelated to a person's qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission."

In a year, all the services will begin allowing transgender individuals to join the armed forces,

Carter called for full implementation one year from now. By October, the Department of Defense will craft and distribute a commanders' training handbook, medical protocol and guidance for changing a service member's gender in the in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System.

That is the deadline that all the services will be required to provide medically appropriate care and treatment to transgender service members according to Department of Defense protocols.

The shift is also a milestone for the administration, which under President Barack Obama, has worked to make LGBT rights and equality a cornerstone of legacy on social change. Carter cited RAND Corporation figures which estimated 2,500 people, out of 1.3 million active duty troops.

Carter signaled the upcoming policy change last summer when he stressed that the ban on transgender members of the military was "outdated, confusing, inconsistent". He also ordered the military to come up with a new policy within six months.

"We have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines — real, patriotic Americans — who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that's contrary to our value of service and individual merit," Carter said at the time.

Since then, the military has implemented a series of changes.

Last month, the Senate confirmed Eric Fanning as Army secretary. He is the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military service to serve in that role.

In April, it was announced that 22 women are part of the first class of female members of the Army to be commissioned as infantry and armor officers — leadership roles that were previously open only to men. Later that month, Capt. Kristen Griest became the nation's first female Army infantry officer.

In December, the Pentagon announced it was opening all combat jobs to women.

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