Men who pretend they are women — and women who pretend they are men — will be able to serve openly in America’s mighty military as early as next week.
The Pentagon will officially announce its repeal of a ban on transgender troops on July 1 — the Friday which marks the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend, reports Reuters.
The planned repeal comes five years after U.S. defense officials rescinded a ban on openly gay and lesbian service members.
The transgender repeal will be in effect immediately once it is announced. However, the various branches of the newly transgender-welcoming U.S. military will need to change many policies — housing, for example, obviously — in order to come into compliance with the new rule.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is expected to give his stamp of approval to the new transgender policy on Wednesday, reports The Hill.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter will then sign off on the plan, making it official.
Carter, a Democrat, has been pushing to lift the transgender ban for about a year.
In July 2015, he announced the creation of a working group to examine allowing transgender troops. At the time, he said the transgender ban would be repealed unless the working group demonstrated that a repeal would lead to an “adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness,” according to The Hill.
Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, has criticized the repeal.
“If reports are correct, I believe Secretary Carter has put the political agenda of a departing administration ahead of the military’s readiness crisis,” Thornberry said, according to Reuters.
The National Center for Transgender Equality has estimated that America’s military features 15,000 transgender troops, Reuters say.
It’s not clear if the 15,000 figure means right now and all at once, or if it includes reserve troops, or, in fact, how the National Center for Transgender Equality defines the concept of transgender for purposes of the statistic.
The announcement that the U.S. military will welcome openly transgender troops comes just weeks after Eric Fanning became the first openly gay secretary of the U.S. Army.