Weeks after federal judges halted Donald Trump’s proposed ban on transgender service members, the Pentagon has released a seven-page guide detailing how to recruit and enlist transgender individuals and stresses that “[e]very applicant will be treated with dignity and respect.” Per court order, the department will begin processing transgender applicants for military service on January 1.
The Department of Defense released the memo, which is in direct defiance to Trump’s order, on December 8. The guidance instructs military personnel to obtain a copy of a birth certificate, court order, or passport from applicants and indicate the individual’s “preferred gender” if different from the gender assigned at birth. People who do not identify with a gender will be processed under the gender assigned at birth. The policy “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” he memo reads.
Per the Washington Post:
“For the purposes of military entrance processing, the applicant’s preferred gender will be used on all forms asking for the ‘sex’ of an applicant,” the guidance said.
Individuals who have undergone gender reassignment surgery will be allowed to join the military as long as doctors consider them to have been stable in their new gender for 18 months, with no complications or additional surgery needed.
During their entry screenings, transgender women who have not undergone gender reassignment surgery or hormone replacement “will wear undergarments consistent with their physical anatomy,” the memo adds. Transgender women, unlike other female applicants, will not be administered a pregnancy test. Everyone will receive a medical exam specific to their “anatomical characteristics.”
All applicants are entitled to privacy, the memo says, and “may express concern about privacy in bathrooms, ortho-neuro rooms, applicant hotel rooms, or similar venues.”
The Justice Department, which has appealed the court’s ruling halting the ban, argues that the policy is too complex to implement by January 1 and requires further review—a position that some Defense officials agree with. NBC reports that a review will be completed in March.
However, Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told NBC News that the organization is “substantially satisfied.”
“Our whole goal here is not to have some unique rules,”Minter said. “We just want transgender people to be treated exactly the same as everyone else.”