October 18, 2016
By Lorra B.
The Air Force has provided temporary ‘gender-specific’ exclusions for airmen seeking to change gender, according to Military.com.
When it comes to bathrooms, uniform requirements and tests of physical fitness, the transgender airmen will be given a different set of rules.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James stated, “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. 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.”
The question on many minds is whether this move indeed makes the military strong or does it cause confusion, a separate set of rules for specific individuals and a division among the troops?
Regardless of your view of this issue, military modifications are here and the changes are detailed in a 17-page Air Force memo that was released last week.
The memo states that transgender airmen will be allowed to serve as long as they meet the outlined requirements.
“It is Air Force policy that service in the United States Air Force should be open to all who can meet the rigorous standards for military service and readiness. Consistent with the policies set forth in this memorandum, transgender individuals shall be allowed to serve in the Air Force,”
The memo reads, “Transgender airmen will be subject to the same standards as any other service member of the same gender; they may be separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service under existing processes and bases, but not due solely to their gender identity or an expressed intent to transition genders.”
Any airman going through hormonal therapy, though having to maintain a fitness regime, may be exempt from physical fitness tests.
“Transgender airmen undergoing cross-sex hormone treatment may request an exemption from taking the Fitness Assessment (FA) during their period of transition, prior to a gender marker change in MilPDS.”
Until the transgender airmen’s ETP request has been approved, they must maintain dress and appearance codes of their current gender.
As for the bathroom scenario, waivers may be requested to use bathrooms that they identify with, which is outlined in the memo.
“In executing any accommodation, the unit commander will take into account the physical construction of the facilities as well as the privacy of other members using the facilities in question. The unit commander should consider and balance the needs of the transgender individual and the needs of the command.”
Policy states those seeking to join the service who have ‘gender dysphoria’ or in the process of any gender transition, genital reconstruction or sex reassignment will be unable to join unless having been cleared by medical provider that they are indeed able to serve and function in the military and are stable in every way.
It’s a brand new day, and it’s a brand new military.
By Lorra B.