The US Military’s Evolving Transgender Policy

Transgender Soldier, Chelsea Manning, recently won her case to receive hormone therapy In a landmark ruling, the US army approved Manning’s treatment, which she will receive while serving time for leaking government documents to Wikileaks

The motion could mean that the army is finally changing its policies towards transgender personnel So where does the army stand on the issue now? In 2010, the law prohibiting lesbians, gay men and bisexuals from serving in the military was repealed The abolishment of the don’t ask, don’t tell law, was a victory for the LGBT community with one notable exception The transgender community To this day, people who identify as being transgender are banned from serving in the U

S military But unlike don’t ask don’t tell, the ban is not a congressional law It’s simply an outdated military medical code that classifies being transgender as a psychological disorder Gender dysphoria, or not identifying with the gender you were born with, is now a recognised medical condition

Critics urge the DoD to update the medical code Although recruiters reportedly turn down transgender applicants because of the code, many soldiers don’t fully realize their gender identity until they are enrolled in service A UCLA report estimates there are 15,000 active military personnel who identify as transgender And despite a handful of exceptions, the majority of these soldiers will be discharged from service if they are found out According to one public policy report, there is no compelling medical reason why transgender people should be banned from military service

Experts note that unfairly discharging competent transgender personnel is a waste of army resources It far outweighs any medical support he or she could possibly need So what would it take to lift the military’s transgender ban? Well, not much The only thing that needs to be changed is the military’s medical code – not congressional law – which was the case with the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” Former Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel has previously said that the military should continually review it’s transgender policy

And a change might come sooner than you think A memo recently leaked from the DoD, suggests that the military is at least considering easing it’s policy on discharging transgender soldiers Together with Chelsea Manning’s ruling, the transgender community can remain hopeful that the military will finally accept them Believe it or not, discrimination against LGBT people isn’t just commonplace in the US, but it is legal To learn more about the issue, take a look at our video here

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