The Pentagon's current regulations banning transgender individuals from serving in the military are outdated, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today, ordering a six-month study aimed at formally ending one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service. Carter says he is creating a working group that will review the policies and determine if lifting the ban would have any impact on the military's ability to be ready for battle. But he says the group will begin with the presumption that transgender people should be able to serve openly "without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified."
The plan, first reported by the AP, gives the services time to methodically work through the legal, medical, and administrative issues and develop training to ease any transition, and senior leaders believed six months would be sufficient. Carter asked his personnel undersecretary, Brad Carson, to lead the working group of senior military and civilian leaders to take an objective look at the issue, including the costs, and determine whether it would create any insurmountable problems that could derail the plan. The group would also develop uniform guidelines. "The Defense Department's current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions," Carter says in a statement. (Read more transgender stories.)