Back to Top

How will this policy affect current soldiers who are transgender?

The military is already full of transgender soldiers, though many have not disclosed their status, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. The Department of Defense estimates that there are at least 2,500 transgender soldiers who are currently serving.

BuzzFeed News is reporting that all military branches are creating guidelines that will help current soldiers transition. Some of those guidelines include having those soldiers diagnosed with gender dysphoria, getting proper mental and physical treatment from medical professionals, and having access to specific hormones to aide in transition.

Commanders will determine a timeframe for the soldier to become "non-deployable," so they can complete their transition, according to BuzzFeed News. They will then be required to complete the fitness tests that correspond to their gender identity. So, if a soldier transitions from male-to-female, they will complete all tests for women.

Where will transgender soldiers live?

Housing is another issue that will addressed in Carter's decree, according to CBS News. Transgender soldiers will be housed with the gender that aligns with their identity. So, transgender female soldiers will be housed with all other female soldiers.

Commanders will also offer accommodations to make transgender soldiers comfortable, especially when showering. These policies will be worked out in individual branches, so there will be no uniform federal policy for housing.

Will transgender soldiers receive adequate healthcare?

The Military Health System provides medical care for all soldiers, and this will not change for transgender soldiers, according to BuzzFeed News. All medical procedures, like breast augmentation and hormonal injections, will be covered by the military's health insurance policy.

So, transgender soldiers will receive adequate healthcare coverage for all of their basic needs. Now, that's a victory.

Can transgender soldiers be deployed?

This is the big question that still hasn't been answered. While commanders will have ultimate discretion, the Department of Defense hasn't address deployment after transition.

However, Carter did say in a press conference that transgender soldiers are as important to the military as any other troop.

"The reality is that we have transgender service members serving in uniform today, and I have a responsibility to them and their commanders to provide them both with clearer and more consistent guidance than is provided by current policies," Carter said.

These new guidelines will go in effect in October, and transgender soldiers will be able to join next July.

"This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force," Carter said. "We're talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can't allow barriers unrelated to a person's qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission."

Main Image: Wikimedia Commons