Air Force Sets Transgender Policy

The Air Force outlined its policies for airmen undergoing gender transition while in service and said new policy is necessary for accession of transgender persons by July 1, 2017. “A transgender airman [who is currently serving] must receive a diagnosis … that gender transition is medically necessary” from a military medical team or a civilian doctor confirmed by a military team, states the memo, dated Oct. 6. The memo also outlines procedures for airmen, once diagnosed, to request gender transition, receive medical treatment, and ultimately change their gender marker in the Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS). Airmen must make use of “lodging, bathroom, and shower facilities” in accordance with their MilPDS gender marker both before and after transition. The memo also forbids “a commander to deny medically necessary treatment to a transgender airman,” and declares, “no otherwise qualified airman may be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service solely on the basis of their gender identity.” While the Air Force will require all airmen to meet the uniform, grooming, and fitness standards of their gender marker, the memo also makes provision for airmen to request exceptions to policies during and after gender transition. The memo requires forthcoming accession policy to establish an 18-month period of gender stability before recruits who have undergone gender transition may be accepted into service.