The Pentagon is scrapping former President Donald Trump’s policies regarding transgender people serving in the military in favor of new rules, the Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday.
The new regulations stipulate that transgender people deemed fit to serve in the military can serve as their self-identified gender, anonymous Department of Defense (DOD) officials told the AP. President Joe Biden’s rules will increase the availability of gender transition treatments and other forms of medical care, the officials also said, according to the AP.
The officials added that gender-transition medical care was medically necessary and authorized by law.
Biden signed an executive order reversing Trump’s policy that blocked transgender individuals from serving in the military. The order also triggered a review of the Pentagon’s policies towards transgender individuals in order to establish guidelines on implementing Biden’s gender policy. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gave the department two months to enact the policies, the AP reported. (RELATED: ‘Taxpayers Shouldn’t Be On The Hook’ To Pay For Military Transgender Surgeries, Rep Jim Banks Says)
Austin further directed the Pentagon to go through records and find individuals who were discharged or prevented from reenlisting because of their self-identified gender, the outlet reported.
The Army LGBT+ Network will host a Virtual Transgender Day of Visibility on the 31 Mar
Through the theme ‘Trans Visibility Over Time’ hear myths dispelled and find out how the Transgender experience of visibility in the military has changed.
— Defence Medical Services (@DMS_MilMed) March 26, 2021
Trump’s policies regarding transgender people serving in the military were more of a return to the DOD’s policies before former President Barack Obama opened up the military to transgender service members in 2016, according to the AP.
After Trump announced the policy change, several legal challenges and lengthy reviews ensued, but in April 2019, the DOD approved a policy that required individuals to serve in their respective “birth gender.”
When the policy was implemented, individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria could not enlist, and individuals already serving were prevented from gender transition surgery, the AP reported. Service members were allowed to continue hormone therapy or gender transition if they entered into an enlistment contract before the Trump-era policy went into effect.
There were 14,700 service members that identified as transgender in both active duty and reserves in 2019, but not all seek gender transition medical care, the AP reported. The DOD previously claimed it spent $8 million on transgender care from 2016 to 2019. The annual health care budget for the military is more than $50 billion, the AP noted.