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According to a report by the Washington Blade, the Secretary of Defense is expected to announce his decision on whether to lift the ban on transgender service members by this spring.

A Pentagon spokesperson told the Blade: “The transgender working group appointed by the secretary of defense will conclude its deliberations by the end of January and present its findings and recommendations directly to the secretary soon thereafter. The secretary will take whatever time he needs to analyze, evaluate, and discuss the Working Group’s findings with his immediate staff and the senior leadership of the department. We do, however, anticipate a final decision from the secretary sometime in the spring.”

“Our transgender service members and their families are eagerly waiting for a decision from the Secretary of Defense,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “For far too long, transgender service members have been forced to serve in silence. It is our urgent hope that Secretary Carter will make the right decision, finally lift the outdated ban, and allow our transgender troops to serve authentically.”

In July of last year, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made history with an announcementthat the Department of Defense would finally update the outdated regulations that prevent open service by transgender service members and would take six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the details. The working group started with the presumption “transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”

In March of 2015, AMPA launched an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the outdated regulations inflict on military families. The report notes, “No one should be forced to choose between defending the country they love and being true to their authentic self.  The outdated regulations serve no purpose and only dehumanize and prevent qualified and capable individuals from enlisting and serving.  The ban perpetuates trauma to all those involved, both the service member and their family.”

In June of 2015, the American Medical Association approved a resolution saying there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.”

There are an estimated 15,500 transgender service members currently serving in silence.