Pentagon ends transgender ban

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(CNN)The Pentagon said Thursday it was ending the ban on transgender people being able to serve openly in the U.S. military.

The announcement -- which removes one of the last barriers to military service by any individual -- was made by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who had been studying the issue for almost a year. The decision comes as the military has witnessed major changes in the role of women and the inclusion of gays, lesbians and bisexual service members in recent years.
    "The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now -- the finest fighting force the world has ever known," Carter said Thursday at the Pentagon.
    "We don't want barriers unrelated to a person's qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100% of America's population," he added.
    "Although relatively few in number, we're talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction," he said. "We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we've invested in and who've proven themselves."
    Carter said the decision was "a matter of principle."
     
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