WASHINGTON, DC -- The Pentagon will let transgender individuals serve openly in the U.S. military, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.
"This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force," said Defense Secretary, Ash Carter. "We're talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can't allow barriers unrelated to a person's qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission."
Carter's announcement comes despite concerns from senior military leaders that the department is moving too fast and that more time is needed to work through the changes.
The changes will be phased in over a year. But by October 1, transgender troops should be able to receive medical care and begin formally changing their gender identification in the Pentagon's personnel system.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)