WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is scrapping restrictions on transgender troops that were imposed by the Trump administration, and will provide further protections and access to medical treatment for those service members, defense officials announced Wednesday.
The Defense Department’s new policy will offer access to medical treatments for gender transition, permit troops to serve openly under their self-identified gender and prohibit discrimination, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters.
The move restores Pentagon policy on transgender troops to where it stood before Donald Trump entered office in 2017, Kirby said. The Trump administration largely banned transgender people from serving openly in the military.
The announcement followed a two-month review by the Pentagon designed to develop detailed guidelines for the military after President Joe Biden issued an executive overturning Trump’s policy. Biden’s executive order, issued shortly after his inauguration, barred any transgender service member from being kicked out of the force based on gender identity.
The new regulations, which are due to enter into force within 30 days, permit transgender people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly in their self-identified gender, and they will be able to receive medically necessary transition-related care as allowed under the law.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also has ordered the department to review the records of troops who were discharged or denied the chance to re-enlist because of gender identity issues under the previous policy.
“The secretary of defense strongly believes that the all-volunteer force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the high standards for military service,” Kirby said, and that an “inclusive force” strengthens U.S. national security.
Out of a force of about 2 million, an estimated 14,700 troops on active duty and in the reserves identify as transgender.
In 2018, the chiefs of all the military services told lawmakers that they had found no negative effects from having transgender troops serve, and no evidence that it damaged discipline, morale or unit readiness.
Mosheh Gains contributed.