– Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the Pentagon's current regulations banning transgender individuals from serving in the military are outdated, and anyone ­willing to serve the country should be able to do so.

Carter is creating a working group to do a six-month study on the effect of lifting the ban. The group will begin with the presumption that transgender people should be able to serve openly, he said on Monday.

The plan would give the services time to work through questions about health care, housing, physical standards, uniforms and costs associated with the change.

Transgender individuals would still be unable to join the military, but decisions to force out those already serving would be referred to the Pentagon.

An estimated 15,500 transgender people serve in the military but have been forced to conceal their identity.

Associated Press