DOD Moves Closer to Implementing Changes to Transgender Policy

Jan. 22, 2019 | BY Jim Garamone ,
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Following a ruling from the Supreme Court, the Defense Department is moving closer to implementing changes to its transgender policy.

“The department is pleased with the orders issued by the Supreme Court today,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Carla Gleason. “We will continue to work with the Department of Justice regarding next steps in the pending lawsuits.”

The Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated three of the four injunctions currently barring DOD from implementing a new policy on military service by transgender persons. There is still a stay on the rules pending a decision from a circuit court in Maryland.

“As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity,” Gleason said. “DOD’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.”

When then-Defense Secretary James N. Mattis announced the changes last year, they were immediately challenged in the courts and a stay was placed upon the changes. The court decisions agree with DOD that the policy changes are not a ban on transgender service members.

Under the changes, transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria are disqualified from military service, unless “they have been stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession,” Mattis wrote in a memo to President Donald J. Trump in February.

Service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria after entering the military may be retained if they do not require a change of gender and remain deployable, the memo states.