The Pentagon is in the final stages of ending a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, according to senior officials who spoke with the Associated Press. An announcement is expected sometime this week.
Before the ban is officially lifted, there will reportedly be a six-month buffer period during which branches of the military will investigate the decision’s potential impact on day-to-day operations. From the AP:
Military chiefs wanted 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.
During that time, transgender individuals would still not be able to join the military, but any decisions to force out those already serving would be referred to the Pentagon’s acting undersecretary for personnel, the officials said. One senior official said the goal was to avoid forcing any transgender service members to leave during that time.
Despite the ban, the AP notes that, according to studies, as many as 15,000 transgender people currently serve in the U.S. military, including convicted Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning. Last year, the U.S. Army agreed to pay for Manning’s hormone therapy after she filed a lawsuit from prison, where she’s serving a 35-year sentence.