NBC News reports:
Transgender men and women will be allowed to openly serve in the military, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on Thursday — the latest move in a series of historic shifts on gender policy for the nation's military.
"This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force," Carter said. "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 (to) prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission."
By October, the Department of Defense will craft and distribute a commanders' training handbook, medical protocol and guidance for changing a service member's gender in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System. That is also the deadline that all the services will be required to provide medically appropriate care and treatment to transgender service members, according to Department of Defense protocols.
Current members of the armed forces with a diagnosis from a military physician that gender transition is medically needed will receive that care.The number of people who will be affected by the policy change is much smaller than the similar policy change when the ban on members of the LGB community serving in the military was ended in 2010. The estimates range from 2,500 to 15,000, which is approximately 0.1% of the 1.3 million members of the U.S. military.
However, DoD "policy will require an individual to have completed any medical treatment that their doctor has determined is necessary in connection with their gender transition, and to have been stable in their preferred gender for 18 months, as certified by their doctor, before they can enter the military," according to the Pentagon.