Transgender airmen on their way to a new gender can now apply to temporarily get out of physical fitness tests if they fail them, based on new guidance released by the Air Force earlier in October.
Transgender airmen in the middle of hormone treatment can ask to skip physical training assessments “during their period of transition, prior to a gender marker change in the MilPDS,” so long as these airmen try and fail the physical tests, according to a policy memorandum released Oct. 6.
Once they fail the tests, their commander must certify that they tried their best to complete the test associated with their current gender–that is, the gender away from which they are transitioning.
Air Force headquarters will then render a decision on the matter when it moves up the chain of command.
Additionally, the policy also allows transgender airmen to file an Exception to Policy for uniform standards. In normal cases, transgenders are supposed to wear the uniform associated with their gender until the transition is complete.
This exception will require input from the airman’s commander before similarly heading up to Air Force headquarters for a decision.
The same exemption structure holds for housing, bathrooms and showers, as well.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James heralded the policy changes as a source of strength.
“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,” James said. “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.”
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter officially lifted the prohibition on transgender troops serving openly in the military in June. Since then, the services have been scrambling to unveil policies and educational efforts to instruct troops of how to be tolerant in the face of transgender servicemembers and what the consequences are if they don’t comply.
The Department of Defense has set a date of July 1, 2017, to begin allowing open transgenders to join the military.
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