Pentagon officials are in the final stages of preparing to lift the ban on transgender individuals serving in the United States Military, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Senior U.S. officials told AP that when the ban is lifted, they will be formally ending one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service.
A transgender person is one who identifies with a different gender than the one he or she was born with, who sometimes take hormones or undergo surgeries to take on the physical characteristics of the gender with which they better identify.
Once the Pentagon makes the announcement sometime this week, the various military branches will have six months to work out the details of how the policy change will affect their operations.
This gives military leadership time to evaluate the legal, medical, and administrative implications.
Some key questions that officials will have to respond to include the following: Will the military pay for the medical costs and surgeries associated with gender transition?
Will there be different physical or testing standards for transgender individuals during different stages of their transition?
Where will transgender troops be housed? What uniforms will they wear? Which bathrooms will they use?
Additionally, AP reported that Defense Secretary Ash Carter is interested in the practical effects of lifting the ban, including cost and what implications this may have on U.S. military readiness, if any.
During the six-month waiting period before the lifted ban will go into effect, transgender individuals will still not be allowed to join the military.
However, military officials told AP that their goal was to avoid forcing any transgender service members to leave the service during the interim.
The lifting of the ban on transgender service comes four years after the U.S. military lifted a ban in 2011 on gay individuals serving openly in the military.
“We believe in getting to a place where no one serves in silence, and where we treat all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines with the dignity, and the respect, that they deserve,” Carter said in June at a ceremony during Pentagon Pride Month.