The Fight For Transgender Rights Just Took A Big Step Forward

On Thursday, the Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender people openly serving in the military. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is expected to officially announce the policy change later this week. Last year, Carter began a push to change the military's policies so that transgender members could openly serve, calling the restrictions "outdated." Last July, Carter said, “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have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines — real, patriotic Americans — who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit." It appears that such regulations have now been removed by the Pentagon.

Update: The Pentagon's decision to end the ban on transgender members openly serving became effective immediately when Defense Sectary Ash Carter announced the change Thursday afternoon.

In a news conference on Thursday, Carter said, "The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now — the finest fighting force the world has ever known," He added:

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.

The Pentagon is providing special training to accompany lifting the ban. Military commanders and medical personnel with transgender people in their units will undergo special training within the next 90 days, and all military and medical services will undergo training within the next nine months, according to ABC News.

According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation at Carter's request, estimated that 2,450 of the 1.3 million active-duty service members are are transgender.