The Pentagon announced that transgender troops may serve openly in the military and receive medical benefits for gender transitions, following through on President Joe Biden’s pledge from earlier this year. The new policies will allow transgender people to enlist in the military and serve openly as their self-identified gender, and that they will have access to medical treatments for transition-related care authorized by law. These troops must still meet military standards.
The move delivers relief to what advocates considered unnecessary punitive measures from the Trump administration that they believe harms military readiness. The changes come after a two-month Pentagon review aimed at developing guidelines for the new policy, which was announced by President Joe Biden just days after he took office in January. Biden’s executive order overturned the Trump policy and immediately prohibited any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin then gave the Pentagon two months to finalize the more detailed regulations that the military services will follow. The new rules also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Their release Wednesday coincides with International Transgender Day of Visibility, and they will take effect in 30 days.
Until a few years ago, service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender, but that changed during the Obama administration. In 2016, the Pentagon announced that transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly, and that by July 2017 they would be allowed to enlist.