WASHINGTON — Officials with the United States Air Force have released a memo on how the branch will accommodate “transgender” airmen in matters of dress, physical fitness, and restroom and shower use.
“This is another step in allowing transgender airmen to serve openly, receive medical care relating to gender transition and allow transgender individuals to join the Air Force,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in a statement. “Our strengths as a military are the quality and character of our people, and those things that make us unique are the same things that make us strong.”
The memo, written on Oct. 6 but released publicly just this week, outlines that as long as they can meet the various requirements, transgendered persons will be permitted to serve.
“It is Air Force policy that service in the United States Air Force should be open to all who can meet the rigorous standards for military service and readiness. Consistent with the policies set forth in this memorandum, transgender individuals shall be allowed to serve in the Air Force,” it states.
“Transgender airmen will be subject to the same standards as any other service member of the same gender; they may be separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service under existing processes and bases, but not due solely to their gender identity or an expressed intent to transition genders,” the guidance reads.
It advises that those who seek to obtain hormonal treatments may be exempt from physical fitness tests while undergoing hormonal replacement, but must maintain a healthy lifestyle and regular fitness regimen.
“Transgender airmen undergoing cross-sex hormone treatment may request an exemption from taking the Fitness Assessment (FA) during their period of transition, prior to a gender marker change in MilPDS,” the memo explains. “Members must submit their initial request to their unit commander or equivalent.”
“Transgender Airmen must adhere to applicable dress and appearance standards of the gender reflected in MilPDS,” it also notes. “Until an ETP request has been approved, transgender Airmen must adhere to their current gender’s dress and appearance standards as reflected in MilPDS.”
Airmen may also request waivers to use the facilities that correlate with their “preferred gender.” The decision as to whether to grant the request lies in the hands of the commander.
“In executing any accommodation, the unit commander will take into account the physical construction of the facilities as well as the privacy of other members using the facilities in question. The unit commander should consider and balance the needs of the transgender individual and the needs of the command,” the memo outlines.
As previously reported, last month, the U.S. Department of Defense also 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.”
“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.”
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty has been among those to express concern about the changes, as it 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.