Secretary of Defense Ash Carter [official website] on Thursday announced [press release] a new policy [materials] that allows transgender individuals to serve openly in the military, effective immediately. The announcement [speech], promised [JURIST report] last week, lifted the ban that not only prevented transgender persons from serving in the military but also made a transgender identity grounds for discharge. The policy shift came after a Rand study was conducted to determine the cost and benefits of the ban. The Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] will begin to update the military policies and regulations within the year to reflect the change. Furthermore, the policy will allow for medical benefits and care to aid in the transition process and address any associated health issues that were previously not covered due to the ban:
Starting today: Otherwise qualified servicemembers can no longer be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service just for being transgender. Then, no later than 90 days from today: The Department will complete and issue both a commanders’ guidebook for leading currently-serving transgender servicemembers, and medical guidance to doctors for providing transition-related care if required to currently-serving transgender servicemembers. Our military treatment facilities will begin providing transgender servicemembers with all medically necessary care based on that medical guidance. Also starting on that date, servicemembers will be able to initiate the process to officially change their gender in our personnel management systems.
The full policy has an implementation date of July 1, 2017.
Legal issues facing transgender individuals have been at the forefront recently. Last week a judge ordered [JURIST report] a Virginia school board to allow transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Last month a judge from Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon ruled [JURIST report] that an individual’s gender could be legally changed from female to non-binary.” Also in June a US magistrate judge issued [JURIST report] an order requiring California prions to provide transgender inmates who identify as female access to female-oriented items to which inmates have access in women’s correctional facilities.