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Pentagon to finally reverse Trump’s reviled military ban with new trans-inclusive policies

Maggie Baska March 31, 2021
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Pentagon aerial shot

Aerial view of the Pentagon on Tuesday, 30 June 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The Pentagon is reportedly about to begin reversing Trump-era policies banning trans people from serving in the military.

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday (31 March) that the Pentagon would soon issue new policies allowing trans people who meet military standards to serve, undoing rules introduced during the administration of Donald Trump and making good on an earlier directive by Joe Biden.

The new rules, yet to be officially announced, will also allow trans military personnel to have wider access to medical care and assistance with transitioning, defence officials told the AP.

In January, president Joe Biden signed an executive order to allow trans troops to openly serve in the military. The order overturned Donald Trump’s reviled trans ban, which was announced in 2017, and directed the Department of Defence to create new trans-inclusionary guidelines.

In the days after Biden overturned the ban, Lloyd Austen, the defence secretary, promised the Department of Defence would “immediate take appropriate police action to ensure individuals who identify as transgender are eligible to enter and serve in their self-identified gender”.

“The United States Armed Forces are in the business of defending our fellow citizens from our enemies, foreign and domestic,” Lloyd said at the time. “I believe we accomplish that mission more effectively when we represent all our fellow citizens.”

Defence officials, who chose to remain anonymous as they revealed the decisions, told the AP that the new department regulations will allow trans people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly as their correct gender. Trans personnel will also be able to get medically necessary transition-related care authorised by law.

The rules would also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. AP reported that they were expected to be announced to coincide with International Transgender Day of Visibility on Wednesday (31 March).

In 2016, the Pentagon announced that trans people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly and that by July 2017, they would be allowed to enlist. But Trump’s hateful ban on trans military personnel put a stop to this.

The ban took effect in April 2019. Trans personnel who were already serving were allowed to continue, but new recruits were banned from enlisting.

The AP reported that these new policies are similar to those being developed in 2016.

There is no exact figure for the number of trans personnel serving in the US military, but a 2019 BBC article estimated the total number to range from 2,150 to 15,000. The AP reported that, since 2016, an estimated 1,500 service members were diagnosed with gender dysphoria. As of February 2019, there were 1,071 still serving.

The Pentagon said the department had spent about $8 million on transgender-related care between 2016 and 2019. The AP reported that the military’s annual healthcare budget is around $50 billion.

The White House has been contacted for comment.

Related topics: trans military

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