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Military Transgender Policy Goes Into Effect


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The updated US Military transgender policy goes into effect today, after several months of legal battles in federal courts.

The Pentagon is quick to point out the policy is not a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. However, they are required them to serve as their biological gender. Waivers can be made on a “case-by-case” basis. The policy prohibits discrimination against transgender service members. 

As long as the individual meets military standards for their birth gender, they can serve, including transgender persons. The Pentagon said the change is not a ban on transgender individuals and emphasized that “all persons will continue to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Persons with a history of gender dysphoria who have undergone medical treatment for gender dysphoria, such as hormone therapy or reassignment surgery, or are unwilling or unable to meet the standards associated with their biological sex, will be presumptively disqualified for service without a waiver. The defense department says those individuals could impact the readiness of the military and therefore will not be allowed to serve.

“There’s transgender people…scrambling to try to hurry up, come out and begin the transition process,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights attorney, Shannon Minter. “So that has been a source of enormous stress and anxiety.”

The defense department maintains the policy is not a ban against transgender individuals serving. Instead, it is intended to eliminate special accommodations made for individuals with gender dysphoria that were not allowed for others. They also say the new policy will ensure that the U.S. military adheres to the highest possible standards in order to achieve maximum readiness, deployability, and lethality to win on the battlefield..

Navy allows preferred gender dress when off duty

The US Navy will continue to allow personnel to dress as “their preferred gender” when not on duty.

According to the dress code, “There is no policy that prohibits the ability of a service member to express themselves off-duty in their preferred gender.” It goes on to say, “Appropriate civilian attire, as outlined in their uniform regulations, will not be determined based on gender.”

Many service members support the new policy changes. “This is not just good for the sailors, but also for the Navy,” Transgender CPO Melody Stachour, a transgender remarked about the dress code. “It allows them to retain sailors who are doing an excellent job … while acknowledging that they are still required to follow the orders given by their seniors.”

Changes from the 2016 policy

Prior (2016) DOD policy allowed those diagnosed with gender dysphoria and who had already obtained hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery to join the military in their preferred gender. They must have undergone those procedures/therapies and be declared stable for at least 18 months before enlisting could do so without a waiver. The disparity came when individuals who obtained similar treatments, such as hormone therapy for low testosterone, could not join the military without a waiver explaining their treatment would not affect their performance.

The 2018 policy changes those disparities. Apart from those exempt from the policy, all service members, regardless of their gender identity, must adhere to the standards associated with their biological sex. “These sex-based standards — such as physical fitness and body fat standards — are based on male and female physiology, not gender identity,” according to the DOD website detailing the changes.

 

Members who are already receiving medical treatment can continue under the new policy. Existing service members already in their preferred gender before it went into effect will be grandfathered in under the prior policy that allowed them to serve openly.

 

 

Sarah Morton

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