The Pentagon announced on Thursday that it will lift a ban that prevents transgender people from openly serving in the U.S. military.
The move eliminates one of the only remaining barriers that prevents individuals from serving. Ash Carter, Defense Secretary, made the announcement after studying the issue for nearly a year.
The Pentagon’s decision comes at a time when the military is facing great changes, as gays, lesbians and bisexual individuals can now openly serve.
According to Carter, the ending of the ban is effective immediately, meaning a person can no longer be discharged for being transgender. Service members who are transgender will also receive the same protocols and medical coverage that other military members receive.
Current members of the military receive coverage for all medical care deemed necessary by their doctors, which includes gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy if doctors determine the procedures are medically necessary.
Service members must be “stable” in their gender identity for a minimum of 18 months before enlisting in the military.
“We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said. “We have to have access to 100% of America’s population,” he concluded.
The decision from the Pentagon follows border acceptance of transgender individuals in the U.S.