Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Transgender people can enlist in military January 1

Published:Tuesday | December 12, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Donald Trump


The Pentagon is allowing transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1, despite President Donald Trump's opposition.

The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the issue, and the difficult hurdles the federal government would have to cross to enforce Trump's demand to ban transgender individuals from the military. Two federal courts already have ruled against the ban. Potential transgender recruits will have to overcome a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, though difficult, for them to join the armed services.

Major David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, says the enlistment of transgender recruits will start January 1 and go on amid the legal battles. The Defense Department is also studying the issue.

Eastburn told The Associated Press yesterday that the new guidelines mean the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition and those who underwent reconstruction. But such recruits are allowed in if a medical provider certifies they've been clinically stable in the preferred sex for 18 months and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.

Transgender individuals receiving hormone therapy must also be stable on their medication for 18 months.

The requirements make it challenging for a transgender recruit to pass. But they mirror concerns President Barack Obama's administration laid out when the Pentagon initially lifted its ban on transgender service last year.

The Pentagon has similar restrictions for recruits with a variety of medical or mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder.

"Due to the complexity of this new medical standard, trained medical officers will perform a medical prescreen of transgender applicants for military service who otherwise meet all applicable applicant standards," Eastburn said.

Last year, then Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban on transgender service members, allowing them to serve openly in the military. He said that within 12 months or by July 2017 transgender people would also be able to enlist.