DOD to overhaul transgender service member policies

Over the next two months, the Department of Defense will work with both senior civilian and military leaders to reform policies put in place under the last administration that banned transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. military.

Under the Trump administration, if transgender troops wanted to continue to serve, they needed to be officially diagnosed with “gender dysphoria,” an administratively disqualifying “deficiency.” The rule required most individuals to serve in their birth gender, otherwise; it did allow service secretaries to waive the policy on a case-by-case basis.

The American Medical Association—a strong advocate for reversing the transgender ban— contends that no “medical” or “valid” reason exists to exclude transgender service members from active duty.

“[T]he only thing deficient,” was “any medical science behind this decision,” then-AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, MD, said about the policy change in a statement.

The Biden Administration, which has nominated openly transgender Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary for Health and Human Services, appears to agree.

Biden’s "Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform," policy states that “all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be eligible to serve and that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the U.S. military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination,” a Jan. 29 memo from DOD Secretary Lloyd Austin states.

AMA estimates that 15,000 transgender military personnel are qualified and willing to serve.

 “Further, the President directed me to take the steps necessary to ensure that all directives, orders, regulations, and policies of the Department are consistent with this order,” the memo continued.

Austin will review the policies over the next 60 days to determine the exact actions needed be taken to reverse the Trump policies.

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