The Washington Post and USA Today both quote anonymous senior officials as saying the Defense Department will end the ban in the coming weeks following a nearly year-long review initiated by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in July 2015.
Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the timing of lifting the ban isn’t necessarily July 1, but an announcement is expected soon.
“Nothing has been confirmed,” Pahon said. “We expect the secretary to announce something in the next couple of weeks, but the 1st is just an unsubstantiated rumor at this point.”
According to USA Today, top personnel officials are set to meet as early as Monday to make details of the plan final. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work could sign off on it by Wednesday. Final approval would come from Carter in the time for Independence Day.
Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the LGBT military group known as American Military Partner Association, hailed the news transgender people would begin to serve openly in the U.S. military.
“Our transgender service members and their families are breathing a huge sigh of relief,” Broadway-Mack said. “Soon, anyone who is qualified will finally be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity. We are eagerly anticipating the details of this historic announcement, and we are incredibly grateful for the leadership Secretary Carter has shown in getting us to this critically important point for our military families.”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal enabled openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve in U.S. armed forces, but openly transgender people have been prohibited from doing so as result of medical regulation established before 1983.
Although Carter initiated a review last year with the intent of lifting the transgender ban, questions lingered about whether the ban would actually end after the Pentagon missed its target timeframe of this spring to make the change. Media outlets reported senior defense officials had internal disagreements about the change and Carter said lifting the ban would be “complicated.”
The Pentagon is reportedly set to lift the transgender military ban within weeks after the U.S. Senate confirmed Eric Fanning, as the first openly gay Army secretary.
Roddy Flynn, executive director of the LGBT Equality Caucus, also hailed the change as an achievement for LGBT rights.
“The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was an important step forward, but LGBT equality is not complete if the transgender community is left behind,” Flynn said. “This country has the greatest fighting force in the world because we place readiness and security above arbitrary exclusion or discriminatory policies. Transgender service members should not have to hide their identity to serve their country. For too long these courageous soldiers have been forced to serve in silence. Thanks to this new policy, we will have a stronger, more focused and more just military.”