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Obama administration ends US military’s ban on transgender troops

A huge victory for LGBTQ rights in America.

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Obama administration has officially ended the US military’s ban on openly serving transgender troops, ABC News reported.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the change on Thursday, saying only soldiers’ qualifications for service should be relevant to the military, not their gender identity. The ban’s end will be phased in over a year, but trans troops should be able to receive health care and change identification documents by October 1, according to ABC News.

The ban’s end has been a long time coming. The military in 2011 ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the ban on openly serving gay and bisexual soldiers. Since then, LGBTQ advocates have been calling for the end of similar regulations that have kept trans soldiers from serving openly, arguing that the ban is outdated and discriminatory.

The ban on trans service is based on incorrect and outdated medical rationale

As a March 2014 report from the Palm Center explained, the military's ban allowed commanders to dismiss trans individuals from the military without a medical review, regardless of the service members’ ability to serve. As a result, trans soldiers had to hide their true identities if they wanted to remain in the military.

The ban on trans service members, as with other forms of discrimination against trans people, was based on incorrect and outdated medical rationale. The concern was that a person's gender dysphoria — a state of emotional distress caused by how someone’s body or the gender they were assigned at birth conflicts with their gender identity — may interfere with someone's ability to serve, since it can lead to severe depression and anxiety.

But most medical experts today, including the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association, agree that hormone therapy and other forms of trans-inclusive care can treat those suffering from gender dysphoria. And not all trans people suffer from severe gender dysphoria in the first place.

The Obama administration had been hinting for months at the ban's lift, which only requires a change from the administration — not Congress — since it's attached to regulations, not law. The official announcement comes after a lengthy review process of the regulations.