Rules mostly banning transgender and non-binary individuals from serving in the military were reversed by the United States on Wednesday.
In announcing the reversal, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said the rules allowed the US to “avail ourselves of the best possible talent that America has to offer, regardless of gender identity”.
It means transgender individuals will no longer be barred from actively serving in another gender to that assigned from birth, or from enlisting in the military.
It also allows individuals to transition during their service in the military, and introduces the availability of related medical care.
It comes after Mr Austin called for a review of the Trump-era transgender ban and any cases of discrimination or dismissal that were caused by it.
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In a statement, the defence secretary said "The United States military is the greatest fighting force on the planet because we are composed of an all-volunteer team willing to step up and defend the rights and freedoms of all Americans.”
"We will remain the best and most capable team because we avail ourselves of the best possible talent that America has to offer, regardless of gender identity," Mr Austin added.
The release of the regulations on coincided with International Transgender Day of Visibility on Wednesday, and will take effect in 30 days.
It follows the signing an executive order to undo the military transgender ban in during US president Joe Biden’s first days in office in January.
Mr Biden said after the signing: "This is reinstating a position that the previous commanders and, as well as the secretaries, have supported. And what I'm doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.”
Transgender individuals were allowed to serve in the military for the first under former US president Barack Obama, until that was undone by Donald Trump in 2017.
Democratic congresswoman Jackie Speier was among those to welcome the regulations, and said on Wednesday that "the Pentagon absolutely did the right thing today by re-establishing a policy of inclusion for transgender service members”.
Ms Speier, who leads the House subcommittee on military personnel, added that transgender individuals “will be able to serve openly and proudly in their self-identified gender”.
It is estimated that between 1,000 and 8,000 members of the US military are transgender, or identify as a gender different to that assigned from birth – although the real number could be higher.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.
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