NEWS | June 24, 2021

Change to Policy Allows Transgender Soldiers to Serve Openly

WASHINGTON -- Transgender personnel and individuals with gender dysphoria who can meet the Army's standards for military service can now serve openly in their self-identified gender, according to a new policy approved this month by the Army secretary.

Army directive 2021-22 changes the service’s retention, separation, in-service transition, and medical care standards for transgender personnel and refines entry criteria for individuals with gender dysphoria, following Department of Defense guidance, said Maj. Gen. Douglas F. Stitt, military personnel management director.

"People are the strength of our Army," Stitt said Tuesday. "Our ability to assess and retain qualified personnel provides a more diverse and stronger Army, enhancing readiness.”

A Soldier's gender identity will no longer be a basis for involuntary separation or military discharge, denied reenlistment or continuation of service, or subjected to adverse action or mistreatment, the policy states.

The updated policy will apply to all active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, U.S. Military Academy cadets, and contracted Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets. Military medical providers will provide medically necessary care for transgender Soldiers following guidelines by the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and the Army surgeon general, Stitt said.

"Every Soldier is different," Stitt said. "When a military medical provider gives diagnosis of gender dysphoria, that Soldier will need to sit down with their chain of command and medical provider to determine what is medically necessary for an effective transition."

Commanders should approach a Soldier's gender transition in the same way they approach any Soldier receiving any other necessary medical treatment, the policy reads. Leaders must also do their part to minimize the impact on mission readiness, all while balancing the Army's needs with the desires of the transitioning individual.

Once a Soldier is stable in their self-identified gender, they can then request to change their gender marker in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS. Once the change is complete, all policies and standards for that given gender will then apply, the policy reads.

Individuals will then be expected to meet all uniform, grooming, body composition, physical readiness, and drug-testing standards. Similarly, a Soldier's identified gender in DEERS will permit them to access gender-specific facilities, such as bathrooms and showers.