Pentagon memo reveals special treatment for trans soldiers
The Pentagon has extended special privileges to transgender service members including exemptions from readiness requirements and even the obligation to deploy, according to a new memo published by The Dossier on Tuesday.
Transgender servicemembers may secure a waiver from both grooming and uniform standards in order to obtain the “real life experience” deemed necessary to continue with medical transition, according to the 34-page document. While not classified, it was not previously available to the public and represents updated guidance as of February.
They may also obtain a waiver from physical fitness standards if experiencing negative side effects from hormone treatment, and these waivers can be renewed every six months.
A transitioning service member can even avoid deployment entirely while taking cross-sex hormones during their transition. They are considered “non-deployable” for a minimum of 300 days during this period, or until considered “stabilized” on the hormone cocktail.
The military pays for every medical procedure involved in transitioning gender from psychological counseling to “voice feminization surgery,” the memo explains, with full transition time expected to take from 9 to 18 months.
While the Womack Army Medical Center, which authored the document, acknowledges that Defense Department facilities are not equipped to perform complex procedures like vaginoplasty or phalloplasty, it simply instructs the medical provider to refer them to the military’s extensive network of civilian practitioners instead. Only in the case of laser hair removal is the procedure not covered by the taxpayer.
While a recruit may identify as non-binary or gender-fluid, they are required to select a gender marker of male or female – not because the Pentagon wishes to “misgender or disrespect a [servicemember’s] gender identity,” but because “the current medical and Army system views gender as a dichotomous variable,” the memo notes.
President Donald Trump had banned transgender individuals from serving in the US military in 2017. His successor Joe Biden reversed the ban shortly after taking office in 2021. Though the Pentagon repealed its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2011, allowing gay and lesbian troops to serve openly, gender dysphoria was still considered cause for involuntary discharge from the service until 2016.
All branches of the US military are currently facing some of the worst recruiting shortfalls in their history. Republican lawmakers have blamed the problem on the Pentagon’s prioritization of diversity, equity and inclusion over military readiness.