In 2017, President Trump attempted to ban transgender Americans from enlisting in the U.S. military. Following multiple federal court hearings, however, the ban was overturned, requiring the Pentagon to allow individuals who have had a sex change to enter the armed services starting Monday, Jan. 1.
The Trump administration attempted to place a hold on the policy change announced during former President Obama’s tenure and push back the start date, but following judicial decisions last week the reform was upheld.
The administration argued the New Year’s Day deadline was unreasonable due to the lack of time military officials would have to be trained on the medical standards for transgender enlistment — a controversial argument according to some sources who argue the Defense Department has been preparing for weeks assuming the Jan. 1 date would hold.
While legal battles continue between the Justice Department and civil rights groups, transgenders are able to enlist in the military, but future transgender enlistments are not yet guaranteed. The Pentagon is conducting a review of the historic reform that will continue through 2018.
There are also certain qualifications for enlistment that transgender people must meet before joining the military. These include: being stable on any hormone therapy medication for 18 months; medical provider certification saying they’ve been clinically stable in their preferred sex for 18 months; free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.
Debates over the fairness of the qualifications and 18-month timeline have continued throughout the legal process with some experts claiming it is extensive and others claiming it follows the qualifications for other medical conditions. It is likely the Supreme Court will intervene in the coming years to help settle any controversy which lingers through 2018.
President Trump gave the Pentagon until March to revert to a policy that blocks the enlistment of transgenders and discharge any that are currently enlisted. The order came during an August memorandum that also halted the use of any government funds for sex-reassignment surgery for any active-duty members.
According to a nonprofit research institution, the RAND Corporation, there are currently up to an estimated 6,600 transgender military members.
[AP] [Reuters] [Military Times] [Los Angeles Times] [Photo courtesy CDR Salamander]