On Current DOD Transgender Policy
On July 26th, 2017 President Trump announced a major DoD personnel policy change. Transgender Americans are no longer allowed to serve in the United States Armed Forces. In the 24 hours since the announcement, there has been a hearty exchange of opinions on the policy, and a realization that seemingly no one really knows what the policy will mean.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, wrote in a letter military to leadership today, “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary as issued implementation guidance.”
Until such guidance is issued, we thought it would be a good idea to supply some resources to inform our readers about the previous policy and the changes this policy could affect.
December 18, 2014:
Attorney General Eric Holder announced, “[…] the Department of Justice would take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status.”
April & July, 2015:
Both documents generally outlined the following:
Current DOD Policy: [mid-2015]
- Prohibit the appointment, enlistment, or induction of those with a “current or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias,” or those with “history of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia including but not limited to change of sex, hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis;”
- Allow servicemembers to be separated administratively on the basis of a diagnosis of a mental disorder. Mental disorders are further defined by military department regulations to include, “psychosexual, transsexual, and gender identity conditions to include…change of sex or a current attempt to change sex.”
If the DOD were to make policy changes to allow the open service of transgender individuals, considerations may vary for individuals who:
- self-identify as a different gender and would like to be recognized as their chosen gender, but do not choose to undergo hormone therapy or surgery,
- are undergoing or would like to undergo hormone therapy without surgery, and3. have had or wish to have gender reassignment surgery.
In all cases the DOD might need to consider administrative questions such as, the type of uniform worn, the gender listed on the individual’s military I.D., and duty and berthing assignments. If the individual is undergoing hormone therapy, another consideration might be the physical fitness testing and standards that apply as currently these vary by gender.
July 13, 2015:
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that DOD would review its policies on transgender service. As part of this announcement he issued two directives:
- DOD will create a working group composed of military and civilian personnel to study the policy and readiness implications of allowing transgender persons to serve openly.
- The decision authority for administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender will be the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.
December 23, 2015:
Congressional Research Service issues the report, “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress”
On the topic of transgender service, the report included the previously mentioned DOD policies, and noted the following:
Should DOD change their admission and separation policies regarding the inclusion of transgender personnel, it might also consider changes to equal opportunity policies and programs to protect these individuals from discrimination.
The report also noted the lack of reliable numbers regarding transgender personnel in the DOD.
There is a lack of reliable data on the number of transgender individuals in the military and in the general population. The DOD does not collect data on servicemembers who identify as transgender, nor does the U.S. Census Bureau or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some estimates based on survey data suggest that transgender individuals make up bet ween 0.1% and 0.5% of the total U.S. population.
June 30, 2016:
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter issued a statement announcing transgender Americans could openly serve in the military, stating the following:
The policy will be phased in during a one-year period. Effective immediately, service members may no longer be involuntarily separated, discharged or denied reenlistment solely on the basis of gender identity. Service member currently on duty will be able to serve openly.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter issued Directive-type Memorandum 16-005 which served to establish “policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for the standards for retention, accession, separation, in-service transition, and medical coverage for transgender personnel serving in the Military Services.”
June 30, 2016:
RAND released “The Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly in the U.S. Military” – a report that has been the source of many of the numbers in the transgender debate of late.
[…]the RAND study used data from previous research to determine how many transgender personnel may be serving in the U.S. military. Applying these prevalence estimates to fiscal year (FY) 2014 military personnel numbers, the study estimated that there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender personnel serving in the active component (accounting for 0.1–0.5 percent of the active component), and between 830 and 4,160 in the Selected Reserve (accounting for 0.1–0.5 percent of the Selected Reserve). Combining survey evidence from multiple states and adjusting for the male/female distribution in the military provided midrange estimates of 2,450 transgender personnel in the active component and 1,510 in the Selected Reserve.
The FY2017 DOD Budget Proposal includes allocations for: 2,083,000 men and women in the four branches, including active, guard, and reserve components.
If this statistic (0.1 – 0.5%) were directly applicable, it would mean this new policy could potentially affect between 2,083 and 10,415 military servicemembers. (note: these force numbers have not yet been met)
The plan to implement the new policy is yet to be determined, but certainly there are an unknown number of current military servicemembers paying close attention to what may become of their hopes of a military career.