The Pentagon has ended the ban on transgender people in the military, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced at a press conference Thursday, the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, the decision to lift the ban comes after a yearlong struggle with senior officials on how exactly the change would be made.
The Post notes that transgender men and woman already serve in the military but have been forced to conform to gender standards so as not to be kicked out. Carter said that the policy change will take effect over the next 12 months.
"Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission," Carter said, the Post reports.
"We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer forces to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified—and to retain them," he said.
According to the Post, the Pentagon will complete and issue a commander's guidebook outlining medical guidance, including gender-transition care, for transgender service members who are already in the military. Transgender troops will also be allowed to switch their gender on all personnel forms.
"Beginning in October, the services will begin training rank-and-file service members about the change. No later than a year from now, the military services will begin allowing transgender service members who meet all standards to openly join the military, provided that they are considered stable in their identified gender for 18 months, as certified by their doctor," the Post reports.
Read more at the Washington Post.