OCTOBER 14, 2016, WASHINGTON (AFNS) – Air Force officials released implementation guidance for transgender airmen on Oct. 7, addressing specific procedures for transitioning and requesting an official change in gender as well as associated guidance in areas ranging from medical and privacy issues to deployments, fitness standards, and dress and appearance.
The guidance, available here, follows the secretary of defense’s announcement in June, which outlined policy allowing service members to transition gender while serving and outlined responsibilities for military services and commanders to develop and implement guidance, training and specific policies.
In addition, the Defense Department created and distributed a commanders’ training handbook, medical protocol and guidance for changing a service member’s gender in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment System (DEERS). The handbook can be found at defense.gov.
“Transgender Airmen serve alongside us with integrity, service and excellence,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “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.”
Over the course of the next year, the Air Force will deliver training targeted at various levels to include a module tailored for commanders, supervisors and medical professionals, and a general module designed for all Airmen. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness will work with the military services to monitor and oversee these efforts.
No later than July 1, 2017, the services will allow transgender individuals to join the armed forces, assuming they meet accession standards. In addition, an otherwise qualified individual’s gender identity will not be considered a bar to admission to a military service academy, participation in ROTC or any other accession program if the individual meets the new criteria.
To support service members, medical professionals and commanders during the implementation period, the DOD has set up a coordination cell that will serve as a central point of contact for technical questions and concerns. The cell is made up of legal experts, policy experts and medical professionals familiar with questions regarding the policy.
The Air Force has also established a Service Central Coordination Cell as a primary resource to provide commanders with guidance for all inquiries related to service by transgender Airmen and to be the central point of contact for accommodation requests. Commander questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Airmen seeking further information or having additional questions or concerns are encouraged to utilize their chain of command.