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Officials: Pentagon to Lift Ban on Transgender Service Members Soon

The Department of Defense is expected to announce that, within weeks, transgender men and women will be allowed to openly serve in the military.
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A badge with flag of USA is placed on the sleeve of an U.S. soldier of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment of the US Army as he arrived with others at Czech army barracks on May 27, 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic.Matej Divizna / Getty Images

The Department of Defense is expected to announce within weeks that transgender men and women will be allowed to openly serve in the military, several Pentagon officials tell NBC News.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter could make the announcement as early as next week and he will call for full implementation one year from now.

Related: Eric Fanning, First Openly Gay Army Secretary, Confirmed by U.S. Senate

The details of the repeal could shift. One defense official told NBC News that the working group that has been studying this issue since July 2015 will provide broad guidance.

It will be up to the individual services to work out the details. Those details include barracks, rules for new recruits, allowance for sex reassignment surgery, diagnosis of dysmorphic disorder, policies on group showers and more.

Carter said last summer that the current ban on transgender members of the military was “outdated, confusing, inconsistent” and diverted focus from armed forces’ key missions.

He ordered the military to come up with a new policy in six months.

Transgender service members and their supporters greeted the news with optimism.

Army Sgt. Kennedy Ochoa said he welcomed the chance to serve "authentically" and equally.

"We are confident and optimistic that a complete and comprehensive policy will be out soon," Ochoa said. "And when that happens, I will be elated. Simply overjoyed."

The move is the latest in a series of sea changing events for the nation's military.

Last month, the Senate confirmed Eric Fanning as Army secretary. He is the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military service to serve in that role.

In April, it was announced that 22 women are part of the first class of female members of the Army to be commissioned as infantry and armor officers — leadership roles that were previously open only to men. Later that month, Captain Kristen Griest became the nation's first female Army infantry officer.

In December, the Pentagon announced it was opening all combat jobs to women.

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