Pentagon to allow open transgender military service, reversing Trump policy


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced Wednesday that the Pentagon has reversed Trump-era policies, allowing transgender people to openly serve in the U.S. military.

Following an executive order issued by President Biden shortly after taking office in January, the Department of Defense (DoD) has formally lifted restrictions on transgender service members by allowing them to serve under their chosen gender identity.

“Trans rights are human rights, and on this Trans Day of Visibility I’m pleased to announce we’ve updated DoD policy on the open service of transgender individuals,” Austin said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon. “The update reinforces our prior decision to allow recruitment, retention, and care of qualified trans individuals.”

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Transgender service members will now be able to receive medical treatment to assist with their gender identity.

A Pentagon official confirmed with Fox News that there are 2,200 military members who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a psychiatrically diagnosed condition when an individual experiences distress relating to their gender identity differing from their assigned sex at birth.

It is unclear at this time how many individuals in the military identify as transgender, but the estimate ranges up to 8,000 service members. Fox News could not confirm if this figure is inclusive of the National Guard and reserve forces.

There are roughly 1.3 million active-duty service members, but that figure jumps to 2.1 million when the Guard and reserve are included.

Austin supported the president’s executive order earlier this year, saying in a statement it was the “right thing” and “smart thing to do.”

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“I fully support the president’s direction that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination,” the defense secretary said.

In a 2017 tweet, Donald Trump announced a reversal to Obama-era policies and barred open service by transgender individuals – a similar policy to the controversial “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy enacted under the Clinton administration in 1993 regarding lesbian and gay service members. That policy was discontinued under Barack Obama in 2011.

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Transgender individuals who had taken hormone therapy were also barred from joining the military under the Trump administration.

The reversal on transgender participation and access to medical care in the military will take place in 30 days, granting all military departments time to update their policies.

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