Evan Young, Major US Army retired, President of Transgender American Veterans Association, (TAVA), attended a phone conference with senior officials from NCTE, OutServe-SLDN, SPARTA, AVER, AMPA, The PALM Center, WPATH, and a senior defense official immediately after the announcement of the long awaited military’s lifting of the ban on transgender service.
In the meeting, the senior defense official gave a general overview of the new policy and opened the floor to each organization for comments and questions. The official reminded everyone that the new policy will be a phased roll-out, and from today’s announcement two documents were signed: one a directive indicating transgender service members are to be retained and two, an instruction to the services that the ban is lifted. He went on to say that there will be a 90 day phase where medical protocol and a commander’s training guide will be developed. After the 90 days, military members will be able to change their gender marker in DEERS and get the medically necessary care they need.
There will be changes in recruiting policy, DoD policy, and service policy. As a new recruit, one will have to have 18 months of stability before joining. This specifically means that they need to be 18 months stable on what ever plan their doctor has prescribed. For example, if a person was prescribed hormones, they need 18 months stability on hormones. If a person has an gender confirming surgery, they will need 18 months stability from that surgery. If their medical plan requires no hormones or surgery, then they must have 18 months stability from when diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The senior defense official stated that the 18 month stability rule will be reviewed in the next 1-2 years, as the department of defense collects data and learns more from the implementation of this new policy.
For those currently serving, gender confirmation surgery is not required for retention. A service member’s transition will be through the guidance and over-watch of military medical professionals who determine what plan is best based upon their clinical diagnosis. For some, this may mean starting hormones. For others, it may be hormones and gender confirming surgery. Each military member’s transition is done individually and not all are the same. It is noted that this policy does not address cross-dressing, and those policies are still in effect.
The senior defense official stated that this policy does not change policy regarding Tricare or the VA. However, he mentioned that proposed changes for Tricare is under review and should be released in the next 1-2 months. We do not know at this time what those changes include.
During the next 12 months of the implementation phase, there will be guidance, training, and assessment. In the next 9 months, there will be training of the force.
With any new administration for the nation, there is concern that this policy may be in jeopardy; however, legal experts from the DoD confirm that there would be serious legal jeopardy for an administration if they tried to reverse this new policy.
TAVA is elated that the discriminating ban on transgender military members has been lifted and look forward to the months ahead during all the phases as this new policy rolls out.