A memo from the Department of Defense, obtained by reporters, outlines how The Trump administration will move forward to implement the transgender military ban.
“The order says the military services must implement the new policy in 30 days [by April 12], giving some individuals a short window of time to qualify for gender transition if needed. And it allows service secretaries to waive the policy on a case-by-case basis.”
David L. Norquist, the deputy defense secretary, signed the document which close to the memo prepared by then –Secretary of Defense James Mattis and approved by the White House last year.
Service members can be discharged due to a diagnosis of gender dysphoria if they are
“unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with his or her biological sex, or seeks transition to another gender.”
This would mean the discharge of some 13,700 transgender service members (out of an estimated 15,000 serving), the largest single layoff of trans people in history. It comes despite testimony from service chiefs that
“they had seen no discipline, morale or unit readiness problems with transgender troops serving openly in the military.”
According to CNN, most transgender persons are now disqualified from military service except:
• Service members who have been stable for three years in their biological sex prior to joining the military — meaning 36 months after completion of surgery and hormone treatments.
• Service members diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria’ after joining the military can stay in the military if they don’t require a change of gender and remain deployable. Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which the person identifies, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
• Service members who were diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria’ before the effective date of the policy can still serve and receive medical treatment.
• Transgender persons without a gender dysphoria diagnosis or history can serve in their birth sex.
LGBTQ rights groups, including those handling the lawsuits, were quick to condemn the move. Jennifer Levi, transgender rights project director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, said in a press release.
“Not only does the Trump-Pence transgender military ban violate the Constitution, but now the administration is also defying a court order. With brazen disregard for the judicial process, the Pentagon is prematurely and illegally rolling out a plan to implement the ban when a court injunction remains in place prohibiting them from doing so.”
But the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing ban to go into effect, in an unsigned 5-4 order. The justices took no stance on the legality of the ban but cleared the way for it to take effect while lower courts hear additional arguments.
In a statement released after the Supreme Court action, the Pentagon tried to clarify its policy,
Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson, told CNN.
“As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. (The Department of Defense’s) proposed policy is NOT a ban on service by transgender persons. It is critical that DoD be permitted to implement personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world. DoD’s proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces remain the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world.”
But American Military Partner Association president Ashley Broadway-Mack disagrees,
“This horrific policy is even more cruel than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ because the Pentagon explicitly told these service members it was finally safe to come out — and now they are being targeted for discrimination.
We emphatically condemn this unconscionable transgender military ban because it undermines military readiness, destroys unit cohesion, betrays our service members, and is based on nothing more than blatant bigotry.”