President Trump has announced, via Twitter, that transgender individuals will no longer be able to able to serve in the United States Military. Our readers, undoubtedly, have already started to see the media firestorm on this topic and may be asking several questions. What is the current policy regarding transgender service members? How will President Trump’s twitter decree effect change within the ranks? Don’t worry, LibertyNation is here to cut through the conundrums and give you the facts of the matter.
First, some context. In June of 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgendered service members could openly serve. Soon after, the Department of Defense published a Commander’s Training Handbook and policy memoranda regarding the new changes to medical care and training. Since 1 October 2016, transition medical care was available for transitioning service members under the guidance of medical professionals. As of 1 July 2017, training on the new policies was complete, and services were to begin accepting transgendered individuals into the ranks, in compliance with recruiting standards. However, Defense Secretary Mattis gave a six-month extension for the individual services to study the policy changes further.
Trump’s comments, broken into three Twitter posts, represent a significant shift in policy and would reverse the changes made by Former Defense Secretary Carter.
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. 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.
So what is the policy as it currently stands? The handbook on policy implementation, Transgender Service in the U.S. Military: An Implementation Handbook, is around 70 pages long and full of military jargon and terminology with which our readers may or may not be familiar. Let’s break down the basics of the policy and approach it through a hypothetical:
Private John Doe is a biologically male service member in the United States Army who identifies as female. Private Doe must first receive a medical diagnosis from a military medical provider that gender transition is a medical necessity due to gender dysphoria. Private Doe must then notify his commander of the requested change and the medical diagnosis. The commander reviews the treatment plan provided by the medical treatment team and helps to refine the timing of the treatment plan. Once the treatment plan is complete, Private Doe submits a request to his brigade commander to have his gender changed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), which tracks service member information in regards to military benefits and entitlements.
Once this is approved, it is then, and only then, that the military considers Private Doe’s gender changed. Once the gender identification marker is changed in the DEERS system, Private Doe, who is biologically male, now must follow all of the regulations and standards as applicable to females. This does not mean that a male soldier can go to his commander on the day of a physical fitness test and say “I identify as female” and then have the female standards be applicable. It is only after the completion of a treatment plan, approved by the command team, and the change of the identifier in DEERS that the standards of the preferred gender are applicable.
It should be noted that the treatment process can take upwards of eighteen months and the service member is considered “non-deployable” for that time.
President Trump’s comments upend these policies but, at least for the military, a proclamation on Twitter does not a policy make. Pentagon spokespeople have redirected all questions regarding President Trump’s comments back to the White House, and Liberty Nation sources within the military, who spoke anonymously as they were not authorized to make comments, have stated that they will wait and see.
“We’re waiting for the policy memo,” said a senior official within the Training and Doctrine Command. “Twitter is not an official order. I’m sure official guidance will be out soon.”
In the meantime, the fate of the roughly 2450 transgender service members currently serving openly in the U.S. Military hangs in the balance. A policy change of this magnitude will take time to design and implement, but change is coming.