The Department of Defense on Wednesday announced that it was reversing a Donald Trump-era rule preventing transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, issuing the new policy on International Transgender Day of Visibility.
“DoD and the Military Departments will institute policies to provide Service members a process by which they may transition gender while serving,” the 22-page information guide stated. “These policies are based on the conclusion that open service by transgender persons who are subject to the same high standards and procedures as other Service members with regard to medical fitness for duty, physical fitness, uniform and grooming standards, deployability, and retention is consistent with military service and readiness.”
President Joe Biden had issued an executive order less than a week after taking office in January, which rescinded the previous administration’s policy — ceasing any further discharges on the basis of gender identity and ordering the military to correct records of those who had been barred from service or involuntarily discharged. Per Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon then performed a two-month review concerning how to best implement the policy.
Former President Trump in 2016 announced his decision to ban transgender servicemembers via his since-permanently suspended Twitter account.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
The announcement caught many of the top brass at the Pentagon off guard, particularly given the all-encompassing scope of Trump’s proposed ban. Several lawsuits ensued, but the DoD in 2019 implemented less-sweeping restrictions that required all those serving in the military to serve in the capacity of their “birth gender.”
Air Force Lt. Col. Bree Fram, the president of the transgender military advocacy group SPART*A, praised the newly released rules.
“We applaud this step to ensure the Department of Defense provides inclusive policy to attract and retain the best and brightest our nation has to offer,” Fram said in a statement to NPR. “Military personnel reach maximum effectiveness when they have access to all medically necessary care and we are excited that this policy extends that access to transgender service members. Additionally, opening recruitment to transgender individuals ensures an extremely talented and motivated pool of people that this country needs have the opportunity to serve in uniform.”
Read the new Pentagon policy below.
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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