LGBTIQ advocates have slammed the Trump administration for a policy that will require most transgender troops and military recruits to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth and ban them from transitioning.
The memo outlining the policy, signed by Pentagon official David Norquist, says the new limits must be implemented within 30 days, after which the US military will likely discharge trans service members who need hormone treatments or affirmation surgery and can’t or won’t serve in their birth gender, the Associated Press reported.
After April 12, the order states a service member diagnosed with gender dysphoria can be discharged if they are “unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with his or her biological sex, or seek[ing] transition to another gender.”
People diagnosed with gender dysphoria will not be able to serve unless a doctor certifies they have been “stable in their biological sex” for 36 months, have not transitioned and are willing to serve in their biological sex, according to the policy. Military secretaries will be allowed to grant waivers to the requirements on a case-by-case basis.
Trans people were officially allowed into the military in 2016 under an Obama administration policy and today, an estimated 14,700 personnel who identify as transgender serve in the military, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
In 2017, President Trump first announced on Twitter his administration would ban trans people from serving in the military “in any capacity,” falsely citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.
A series of subsequent court challenges put such a policy on hold, but in January the US Supreme Court lifted lower-court rulings that had blocked it, allowing new limits on transgender troops to go into effect.
Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, blasted the ban as “bigoted” and “cowardly.”
“The President’s revival of his bigoted, disgusting ban on transgender service members is a stunning attack on the patriots who keep us safe and on the most fundamental ideals of our nation,” Pelosi said.
“The President’s years-long insistence on his cowardly ban makes clear that prejudice, not patriotism, guides his decisions.”
US LGBT military personnel network OutServe-SLDN denounced the policy in a statement.
“By taking steps to implement its ban on open and authentic military service, the Trump-Pence administration has definitively affirmed that when it comes to our national security, they hold unsubstantiated and discriminatory claims as more important than effectively and efficiently completing the mission,” OutServe-SLDN executive director Andy Blevins said.
National Center for Transgender Equality’s director of policy, Harper Jean Tobin, said the policy represented an unprecedented step backward for the country and its military.
“Throughout our nation’s history, we have seen arbitrary barriers in our military replaced with inclusion and equal standards,” Tobin said.
“This is the first time in American history such a step forward has been reversed, and it is a severe blow to the military and to the nation’s values.”