JUNE 15, 2017, ARLINGTON, Va. – National Guard members have been taking part in training sessions on coming changes to Department of Defense transgender policy, ensuring Guard members understand the new policy changes and are in full compliance with those changes.
Beginning July 1, a person’s gender status – including being transgender — will no longer be a disqualifying factor from enlisting in the military. That serves as an extension of a 2016 policy shift that meant currently serving transgender service members could not be discharged as a result of their transgender status.
“The policy of the Department of Defense is that service in the United States military should be open to all who can meet the rigorous standards for military service and readiness,” said then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in a memo from June 2016.
The training sessions are being done to ensure Guard members are fully aware of the changes.
“All of this is an effort to ensure the seamless transition and the full implementation of [the] DoD policy,” said Zenia Boswell, with the Army National Guard’s Personnel Policy Division.
The road to the policy change began as early as 2015, said Boswell, adding that the personnel policy division provided input to DoD policy makers on how those policy changes would affect the Guard, including issues of medical care for transgender Guard members.
“If a [Guard member] is on active duty orders, TriCare Prime will provide gender transition medical care to service members based on medical guidance from a military provider,” she said. “If traditional [Guard members] have TriCare Reserve Select, they would have to use that in concert with whatever civilian insurance they have, or they would have to use the civilian insurance by itself.”
Boswell added that fitness standards and requirements for transgender Service members would reflect the gender status established in their personnel files.
“No special treatment is ever afforded,” she said, referring to the physical fitness requirements.
Boswell said the policy change reflects the Guard’s commitment to being open and inclusive, with readiness at the forefront.
“This is all about diversity and inclusion,” she said, adding that military service by those who are transgender “is no different than anybody else” who wishes to serve in the military.
By Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith and Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy