U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the military is eliminating its ban on letting transgender people openly serve in the armed forces. Carter says the decision is effective immediately.
"The United States Army is open to all Americans who meet the standard. ... So if we in uniform are willing to die for that principle, then we in uniform should be willing to live by that principle," Carter said.
In 2011, the military dropped its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, allowing gay, lesbian and bisexual people to openly serve, but it did little for those who identified as transgender.
The changes will be reportedly phased in over the course of a year, and Carter says he's confident the implementation won't affect the military's readiness.
"Deliberate and thoughtful implementation will be key. I and the senior leaders of the department will be ensuring that all issues from that study will be addressed in implementation," Carter said.
According to the RAND corporation, which studied transgender people in the military, 2,450 of the 1.2 million active-duty members of the military are transgender. Other estimates put that number as high as 15,000.