Biden policy on transgender troops: A welcome continuation of 2016 rules
The Biden administration has issued implementing guidelines for its policy on military service by transgender individuals, overturning a ban instituted in 2019 by the Trump administration.
“The Pentagon has allowed open and authentic service by transgender Americans continuously for nearly five years now because many troops were grandfathered in even under the Trump ban. All the service chiefs and all the research make clear that inclusion has succeeded, and now the Biden administration has secured equal access for all transgender troops. This debate is over,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, an independent, nonpartisan research institute that conducts scholarly analysis of U.S. military personnel policy, with an emphasis on LGBT populations.
The regulations harken back to a policy instituted under the Obama administration in 2016, based on the governing principle that a single standard applies to all service members, and that decisions about transgender members will be made in a manner comparable to how they would be made for all other military members in similar circumstances.
The updated policy allows transgender people who are already serving and meet all military standards to continue serving regardless of gender identity, and also allows applicants who can meet all military standards to join the military and serve in their self-identified gender.
The guidelines as well allow service members to transition to their self-identified gender and follow the standards and requirements in place for that gender, and allow transgender service members full access to military health care as mandated by federal statute for all members of the military, including medically necessary transition-related care.
The only changes the Biden policy made from the Obama policy involved narrowly targeted regulatory clarifications, such as making clear that the policy applies to ROTC and service academy cadets and midshipmen, broadening the contexts in which members can conduct the real life experience phase of their gender transition, and updating terminology.
According to a Palm Center analysis of Department of Defense figures, there are 14,700 transgender troops currently serving in the Active Component and Reserves, and 2,200 currently serving individuals who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and may be seeking or have had transition-related medical care.
The costs of medical care for transgender troops, according to a DoD report, is in the range of $3 million per year, less than a hundredth of one percent of DoD’s annual health care budget.
The military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra.
Story by Chris Graham