Pentagon transgender policy put into effect, bars some from serving


Published 7:20 PM EDT Mar 12, 2019

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon's policy on transgender service was signed Tuesday night, barring from service those who require treatment for gender dysphoria, according to a copy of the directive.

The policy will be effective April 12, the memo noted.

Implementation of the policy, pushed by President Donald Trump, had been delayed by court challenges. Currently serving troops who have been treated for gender dysphoria will be allowed to continue serving.

Transgender troops must serve in their sex at birth, and must file for waivers for use of showers, bathrooms, physical fitness and other standards, according to the policy, signed by David Norquist, the number two civilian official at the Pentagon. 

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who chairs the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, blasted Trump and the Pentagon policy. She called the policy vicious and demeaning and took a swipe at Trump's avoidance of military service during the Vietnam War for having bone spurs. She vowed to fight the implementation of the policy.

“I would like to know what it is that the President is so afraid of?" Speier said in a statement. "Transgender troops have served for decades and carried out multiple deployments, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, to protect our country and freedoms. These tough, brave service members have never used bone spurs as an excuse to dodge their duty and service to our country. We owe them our gratitude, not government-sanctioned discrimination."

Legal advocates for transgender troops maintained in a court filing Tuesday that the Pentagon should be prevented from implementing the policy.

The new policy, however, does not allow special accommodation for incoming troops' gender dysphoria. That condition is recognized in medicine as resulting from the conflict between physical gender and gender identity. The American Medical Association and other major medical and psychiatric organizations have stated that gender dysphoria should not disqualify troops from serving.

USA TODAY has reported that the Pentagon has provided about $8 million in medical and psychological treatment to more than 1,500 transgender troops since July 1, 2016. The previous ban on service from transgender troops was lifted at that time. The Pentagon annually spends about $50 billion on health care.

In July 2017, Trump tweeted that he wanted to ban the service of transgender troops. The policy has been modified to prohibit the service of most transgender individuals.

The RAND Corp., a non-partisan think tank, conducted a Pentagon-funded study in 2016 and found that there likely are fewer than 10,000 transgender troops among the more than 1 million active-duty troops. RAND determined that the cost of treating for transgender troops and their effect on readiness to fight were negligible. 

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