The U.S. Defense Department plans to repeal its ban on transgender service members, ending a year of contentious internal debate about how they can serve openly.
The decision is expected to be announced July 1, USA Today reported Friday, citing a senior Pentagon official who spoke on condition of anonymity. A Pentagon press officer emailed VOA a statement Saturday saying that, "while the DoD anticipates completing our policy on transgender service members in the coming weeks, no date has been confirmed for the announcement."
Transgender troops currently can be discharged. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who must approve the change, last year said current regulations on transgender troops were "outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions." He called for a review, saying the ban would be revoked unless there were indications of "adverse impact."
Each branch would have one year to implement the changes, which would affect polices on recruiting, uniforms and housing.
An estimated 15,000 trans people serve in the U.S. military, Reuters reported, citing the National Center for Transgender Equality as its source.
News of the planned policy shift broke on the same day that President Barack Obama designated as a historic monument the site of a 1969 gay revolt in New York City. The Stonewall Uprising is credited with sparking the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement.
The military has undergone wide-reaching shifts in recent years.
In 2011, it lifted its ban on allowing openly gay troops to serve. Previously, the policy had been "don’t ask, don’t tell." On Monday, the U.S. Army held a welcome ceremony for its new secretary, Eric Fanning, the first openly gay person to lead a U.S. military service branch.
Last year, Carter ordered that each service branch open all military roles to women.
The American Military Partner Association, which represents LGBT families, said in a statement on its blog: "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."