U.S. Department of Defense Releases Handbook on Accommodation of Transgenders in Military

PentagonWASHINGTON — The United States Department of Defense has released a handbook outlining how the military is to accommodate those who identify as transgender.

“Transgender Service in the U.S. Military: An Implementation Handbook” was released on Sept. 30 “to assist our transgender service members in their gender transition, help commanders with their duties and responsibilities, and help all service members understand new policies enabling the open service of transgender service members.”

It states that soldiers are permitted to undergo “gender transition” after receiving a gender dysphoria diagnosis and treatment recommendation from a military medical provider.

“Transitioning gender may have an impact on several different aspects of your career including deployability, assignment considerations, medical classification, and aspects of individual readiness (e.g., physical fitness, body composition assessment, and professional military education attendance),” the handbook reads. “Since the impact to your career could be significant, it is strongly recommended you discuss this with your commander and/or mentor.”

It also advises military commanders that those who obtain hormone treatments may have difficulty meeting physical fitness standards.

“Individuals undergoing cross-sex hormone therapy may experience changes to their body shape and physical strength, which may have a notable effect on their ability to maintain standards,” the guidelines state. “If that is the case, consult with the individual and the [military medical provider] as you would for any other service member with a medical condition affecting their ability to meet physical fitness standards.”

The handbook further tells troops to address their fellow service members by their preferred pronouns.

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“You should be sensitive to the use of pronouns when addressing others,” it states. “This will vary by individual and unit. If there is ever any question about pronoun usage, do not hesitate to ask the service member how they wish to be addressed.”

As previously reported, the Pentagon had announced in June that it was ending its ban on open transgenders in the military.

“We’re eliminating policies that can result in transgender members being treated differently from their peers based solely upon their gender identity rather than upon their ability to serve,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement at the time.

The Pentagon had advised a year prior that a six-month study would be conducted to determine whether lifting the ban could have any adverse effect on battle preparedness. The study was to encompass a variety of aspects, such as how transgenders will be housed, what uniforms they will wear, what bathrooms they will use, and what physical fitness/training standards they will be held to as a person that now seeks to be known as the opposite gender.

Officials also planned to consider whether the government will pay for “gender reassignment” surgeries and other treatments sought by those who identify as transgender. Last month, the Pentagon advised that it would indeed provide coverage for active duty service members.

“[A] Defense Department spokesman said Monday that the option is available to all transgender active duty troops if their doctors recommend it and senior military health officials approve it,” the Military Times reported on Sept. 19.

As previously reported, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty expressed concern in July following a conference call with a Pentagon official who outlined the implications of lifting the ban on open transgenders in the military. The Alliance said that the new policy could be especially adverse for Christian doctors.

“An endorser on the call asked whether medical professionals who hold a biblical view on human sexuality will be required to violate their consciences and do as these persons demand,” Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA Retired, who serves as the executive director of the Alliance, explained in a statement, “and the response was that it is the responsibility of medical professional to serve military persons.”

“The Department of Defense must ensure a service member is not forced to violate his or her conscience and that doctors and nurses who hold to a biblical view of human sexuality can serve in today’s military,” he said. “Congress has spoken on this issue in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act.”

Crews also advised that endorsers were told that military members with “mixed genitalia” may be present in showers and barracks as they will be in the process of changing their identity.

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