Biden’s executive order repealed Trump policies and immediately banned any service member from being forced out of the military based on gender identity. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin then gave the Pentagon two months to finalize the more detailed regulations that military service will follow.
The new rules also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Its expected release on Wednesday coincides with International Transgender Visibility Day.
Austin has also requested a re-examination of the records of service members who have been revoked or denied recruitment due to gender identity issues under the previous policy. The results of this review were not made public.
Until a few years ago, service members could be fired from the military for being transgender, but that changed during the Obama administration. In 2016, the Pentagon announced that transgender people who were already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly and that they would be allowed to enroll until July 2017.
However, after Donald Trump took office, his administration delayed the convening date and called for additional studies. A few weeks later, Trump surprised military leaders and tweeted that the government would not accept or allow transgender people to serve “in any capacity” in the military.
After a lengthy and complicated legal battle and additional reviews, the Department of Defense approved a policy in April 2019 that failed to comply with a comprehensive ban but prohibited transgender troops and recruits from transitioning to the opposite sex and required most individuals to serve in administration their “birth sex”.
Under this policy, transgender troops currently on duty and anyone who signed a hiring contract prior to the Effective Date could continue their hormone treatment and sex reassignment plans if they were diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
But after that date, no one with gender dysphoria, who was taking hormones or who had transitioned to the opposite sex, was allowed to enroll. Troops previously on duty diagnosed with gender dysphoria were required to serve in the sex determined at birth and were not allowed to take hormones or undergo transitional surgery.
The new guidelines, which will be released on Wednesday, are similar to those developed in 2016.
As of 2019, an estimated 14,700 soldiers on active duty and in the reserves identify as transgender, but not all seek treatment. There are more than 1.3 million active troops and nearly 800,000 in the National Guard and Reserves.
As of July 2016, more than 1,500 service members have been diagnosed with gender-specific dysphoria. As of February 1, 2019, 1,071 were currently in use. The department spent about $ 8 million on transgender care from 2016 to 2019, according to the Pentagon. The military’s annual health budget exceeds $ 50 billion.
All four chiefs of service told Congress in 2018 that they had not seen any issues with discipline, morale, or readiness for units with transgender troops openly serving in the military. But they also admitted that some commanders spent significant amounts of time with transgender people dealing with medical needs and other transition issues.