The Pentagon is preparing to lift the ban on transgender individuals in the military, reports the Associated Press.
According to several senior U.S. military officials familiar with the planning, an announcement is expected this week. The officials said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has ordered a working group of senior civilian and military leaders tasked with a plan to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military. The group will reportedly have six months to assess the the plan and implement changes. According to the AP, "Carter wants the working group to look at the practical effects, including the costs and what impact, if any, it would have on military readiness."
In February, Secretary Carter indicated his support for overturning the ban. "I'm very open-minded about ... what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That's the important criteria," Carter said during a Q&A with troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan. "Are they going to be excellent service members? And I don't think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them."
In 2011, the military overturned Don't Ask, Don't Tell, allowing for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the military to serve openly after a similar review process. More from the AP:
Officials familiar with the Pentagon meetings said the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force did not express opposition to lifting the ban. Instead, they said the military leaders asked for time to figure out health care, housing and other questions and also to provide information and training to the troops to insure a smooth transition.