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Pentagon Formally Lifts Ban on Transgender Service Members

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'Effective immediately."

(From L to R), transgenders Major Alexandra Larsson of the Swedish Armed Forces, Sergeant Lucy Jordan of the New Zealand Air Force and Major Donna Harding of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps listen to Corporal Natalie Murray of the Canadian Forces speak during a a conference entitled 'Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe' organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Palm Center in Washington,DC on October 20, 2014. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) -- The Pentagon will let transgender individuals serve openly in the U.S. military, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the change Thursday. Carter says it's the right thing to do. He says only a person's qualifications should matter, and that there should be no other unrelated barriers to service.

"Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military, just for being transgender," Carter said.

Carter's announcement comes despite concerns from senior military leaders that the department is moving too fast and that more time is needed to work through the changes.

The changes will be phased in over a year. But by October 1, transgender troops should be able to receive medical care and begin formally changing their gender identification in the Pentagon's personnel system.

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