WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Pentagon is set to lift its ban on transgender troops within the coming weeks, US media reported Friday (June 24).
The move would be another major milestone for America's vast military, which up until five years ago still banned gay troops from openly discussing their sexuality under a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
USA Today said the transgender announcement is expected July 1 and the plan would require each branch of the military to phase in the new policy over a 12-month period.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook declined to confirm reports, but said a decision was due "soon." Currently, Pentagon rules allow transgender troops to be discharged from the military.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last year ordered all military roles - including combat positions - to be opened to women.
Maryland Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer welcomed the news.
"The reversal of the ban is a major step forward in the effort to secure the full rights and equality of LGBT people in our country, and it will strengthen our military by ensuring that talented, dedicated candidates are not turned away or discouraged from serving because of their gender identity," he said in a statement.
The US military has about 1.3 million service members.