Washington D.C., Mar 14, 2019 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- Troops enlisting and serving in the U.S. military will have to serve as their biological sex and are forbidden from transitioning to another gender, a new Department of Defense policy states.
The policy was announced in a memo that was obtained by the Associated Press March 12. The policy will go into effect April 12.
While not a ban on transgender persons in the military altogether, the new policy will presumably result in many transgender troops being discharged from the military if they wish to serve under a different sex, seek cross-sex hormones, or gender transition surgeries.
The new policy has additional rules regarding gender dysphoria, a condition where someone identifies as a different gender than their biological sex. Recruits with a history of gender dysphoria will not be permitted to join the military unless they can show they have been identifying with their birth gender for three years and have not transitioned to a different gender.
If someone in the military were to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, this new policy would not permit them medically or surgically to transition to a different gender.
Transgender individuals who are either already enlisted or under contract to join the military prior to the start of the new policy will be grandfathered in to the transgender policy introduced in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama. That policy permitted transgender troops, and allowed those serving in the military to change their gender marker and begin to transition genders.
Per the updated policy, exceptions would have to be made for transgender individuals to continue to access health care associated with their gender transition. Those with gender dysphoria will be permitted to serve as their identified gender.
According to the Department of Defense website, there are “many transgender individuals already are serving honorably in uniform,” and they will not be removed from the military.
“DOD policy prohibits involuntary separation solely on the basis of gender identity, and it seeks to protect the privacy of transgender service members,” says the website.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) said in a statement that the new policy was “bigoted” and a “stunning attack on the patriots who keep us safe and on the most fundamental ideals of our nation.”
There is no reliable data on the number of transgender troops in the military. Estimates suggest there could be as many as 10,000 transgender troops, with about 1,000 troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria. There are a little over 2 million members of the U.S. military.
Pelosi said that the House of Representatives would fight against this “discriminatory action, which has no place in our country.”
The Supreme Court ruled in January 2019 that President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender persons in the military was legal and could proceed. Trump announced this policy change in July 2017, in a tweet posted to Twitter. In that tweet, Trump said that there was “tremendous medical costs and disruption” associated with transgender troops.
The next month, the Pentagon announced a new policy that would permit transgender soldiers in the military, as long as they have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and have not transitioned from their birth sex. Troops identifying as transgender would have to wear the uniform associated with their biological sex and would not be permitted to use facilities associated with their desired sex.
The new policy forbade individuals who have transitioned genders from serving in the military or joining the military.
When Trump announced the policy in 2017, a theology professor at the Catholic University of America said it was the “right decision.”
Those who identify as transgender are “people made in God’s image, and they deserve our compassion, and they deserve to be treated with dignity, but that doesn’t mean that they are fit for combat in the defense of a nation,” Dr. Chad Pecknold told CNA.
“Pope Francis is famous for his stress upon dialogue, and his non-judgmental approach with respect to the dignity of every person,” he said. “But the Holy Father has also been crystal clear that ‘gender theory’ represents a burning threat to humanity, starkly describing it as a ‘global ideological war on marriage’.”