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Transgender Service

Then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on 28 June 2016 that transgender service members will be allowed to serve openly and authentically.  The DoD is implementing this in stages and the most current information can be found on their website here.

The DoD has published several policy documents regarding the service, medical care of and accession of transgender service members.  We have provided a summary below, but always consult the policy documents for the most current information:

Commander's Handbook for Transgender Policy Implementation

Guidance for Treatment of Gender Dysphoria for Active and Reserve Component Service Members

Transgender Service Member Policy Implementation Fact Sheet

DTM 16-005: Military Service of Transgender Service Members

DoDI 1300.28: In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members

If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact our legal department at


Medical standards for accession into the Military Services help to ensure that those entering service are free of medical conditions or physical defects that may require excessive time lost from duty. Not later than July 1, 2017, the USD(P&R) will update DoD Instruction 6130.03 to reflect the following policies and procedures: 

  1. A history of gender dysphoria is disqualifying, unless, as certified by a licensed medical provider, the applicant has been stable without clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning for 18 months. 

(2) A history of medical treatment associated with gender transition is disqualifying, unless, as certified by a licensed medical provider:

(a) the applicant has completed all medical treatment associated with the applicant’s gender transition; and

(b) the applicant has been stable in the preferred gender for 18 months; and

(c) If the applicant is presently receiving cross-sex hormone therapy post gender transition, the individual has been stable on such hormones for 18 months.


(3) A history of sex reassignment or genital reconstruction surgery is disqualifying, unless, as certified by a licensed medical provider:

(a) a period of 18 months has elapsed since the date of the most recent of any such surgery; and

(b) no functional limitations or complications persist, nor is any additional surgery required.

The Secretaries of the Military Departments and the Commandant, United States Coast Guard, may waive or reduce the 18-month periods, in whole or in part, in individual cases for applicable reasons.


The standards for accession described in this memorandum will be reviewed no later than 24 months from the effective date of this memorandum and may be maintained or changed, as appropriate, to reflect applicable medical standards and clinical practice guidelines, ensure consistency with military readiness, and promote effectiveness in the recruiting and retention policies and procedures of the Armed Forces.


Currently Serving Members


Effective immediately, no otherwise qualified Service member may be involuntarily separated, discharged or denied reenlistment or continuation of service, solely on the basis of their gender identity.


Transgender Service members will be subject to the same standards as any other Service member of the same gender; they may be separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service under existing processes and basis, but not due solely to their gender identity or an expressed intent to transition genders.


A Service member whose ability to serve is adversely affected by a medical condition or medical treatment related to their gender identity should be treated, for purposes of separation and retention, in a manner consistent with a Service member whose ability to serve is similarly affected for reasons unrelated to gender identity or gender transition.


We have a Transgender chapter and you may contact the chapter leader by e-mail at


In-Service Transition 

DoD and the Military Departments will institute policies to provide Service members a process by which, while serving, they may transition gender. These policies are premised on the conclusion that open service by transgender persons who are subject to the same standards and procedures as other members with regard to their medical fitness for duty, physical fitness, uniform and grooming standards, deployability, and retention, is consistent with military service and readiness.  

The Military Departments and Services recognize a Service member’s gender by the member’s gender marker in the DEERS. Coincident with that gender marker, the Services apply, and the member is responsible to meet, all standards for uniforms and grooming; body composition assessment (BCA); physical readiness testing (PRT); Military Personnel Drug Abuse Testing Program (MPDATP) participation; and other military standards applied with consideration of the member’s gender. As to facilities subject to regulation by the military, the Service member will use those berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities associated with the member’s gender marker in DEERS.  

Service members with a diagnosis from a military medical provider indicating that gender transition is medically necessary, will be provided medical care and treatment for the diagnosed medical condition. Recommendations of a military medical provider will address the severity of the Service member’s medical condition and the urgency of any proposed medical treatment. Medical advice to commanders will be provided in a manner consistent with processes used for other medical conditions that may limit the Service member’s performance of official duties.  

Any medical care and treatment provided to an individual Service member in the process of gender transition will be provided in the same manner as other medical care and treatment. Nothing in this issuance will be construed to authorize a commander to deny medically necessary treatment to a Service member.  

Any determination that a transgender Service member is non-deployable at any time will be consistent with established Military Department and Service standards, as applied to other Service members whose deployability is similarly affected in comparable circumstances unrelated to gender transition. 

Commanders will assess expected impacts on mission and readiness after consideration of the advice of military medical providers and will address such impacts in accordance with this issuance. In applying the tools described in this issuance, a commander will not accommodate biases against transgender individuals. If a Service member is unable to meet standards or requires an exception to policy (ETP) during a period of gender transition, all applicable tools, including the tools described in this issuance, will be available to commanders to minimize impacts to the mission and unit readiness.  

When the military medical provider determines that a Service member’s gender transition is complete, and at a time approved by the commander in consultation with the transgender Service member, the member’s gender marker will be changed in DEERS and the Service member will be recognized in the preferred gender.


Transgender Veterans

The DD-214 form issued to each service member upon discharge carries no gender marker, though it does list legal name. Some transgender veterans have successfully amended this name listing with a DD-215 form, which lists changes to the DD-214. By regulation, the VA is not permitted to perform or pay for sex reassignment surgery. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a directive on 10 June 2011 articulating a policy of fair and equal treatment for transgender veterans. It also confirms coverage for medically necessary healthcare for transgender veterans, such as sex-specific care like mammograms and pap smears, and transition-related care like hormones and mental health services. This regulation, however, is scheduled to expire on November 30, 2012, and it is unclear what policy the VA will adopt after that date. 

Transgender Resources

FTM International
FTM International serves the Female-to-Male community by providing support meetings for FTMs and their families in cities around the world.

National Center for Transgender Equality 
The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people.

Transgendered American Veterans Association (TAVA)
TAVA was formed to address the growing concerns of fair and equal treatment of transgender veterans and active duty service members.

Transgender Law Center (TLC) 
The Transgender Law Center is a California-based civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities. TLC utilizes direct legal services, public policy advocacy, and educational opportunities to advance the rights and safety of diverse transgender communities.

Transgender Law & Policy Institute (TLPI)
The TLPI brings experts and advocates together to work on law and policy initiatives designed to advance transgender equality.

Have a question? Contact OutServe-SLDN by clicking here.

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