New Policy: Transgenders May Serve in Military Under Limited Conditions

Susan Jones | March 26, 2018 | 7:25am EDT
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President Trump addressed troops at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego on March 13, 2018. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - Under a new policy announced by President Trump on Friday, transgender people who qualify for military service may serve, but only as the men or women their biological sex determines them to be.

Transgender people “with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria,” and those who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service unless they have been stable for 36 consecutive months in their new biological sex before joining the military; and they do not require a change of gender, but they still meet the requirements for deployment.

Currently serving transgenders who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the new policy took effect “may continue to serve in their preferred gender and receive medically necessary treatrment for gender dysphoria.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis said the new policy also has the support of the Homeland Security secretary.

Homosexual and transgender advocacy groups predictably opposed the policy, calling it "cruel" and "driven by an extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda rather than what is in the best interests of our troops and national security."

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, served in Kuwait and Iraq in 2003 as a member of the Iowa Army National Guard.

She told CBS's "Face the Nation" that she supports allowing transgenders who meet the physical and mental requirements to serve in the military.

"But I have asked transgenders myself, if you are willing to lay down your life beside mine, I would welcome you into our military. But, again, there are standards that have to be met. And I will support the president and the administration on making sure that standards are met. But if there are transgenders that meet those qualifications, certainly, I would gladly have them serve in our United States military."

Ernst said she believes the White House has done a "very studied analysis of how we have the best-qualified people coming into the military."

For the record, CBS's "Face the Nation" was the only show to ask a guest -- only one guest, Joni Ernst -- about Trump's new transgender policy.

In three tweets last July, President Trump announced that "the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you," he wrote.

The policy announced on Friday will allow transgenders under the conditions outlined above.

Gen. Mattis said he asked a panel of military and civilian experts to develop policy proposals on transgenders in the military, and based on their work, the Defense Department concluded "there are substantial risks associated with allowing the accession and retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and require, or have already undertaken, a course of treatment to change their gender."

"I firmly believe that compelling behavioral health reasons require the Department to proceed with caution before compounding the significant challenges inherent in treating gender dysphoria with the unique, highly stressful circumstances of military training and combat operations. Preservation of unit cohesion, absolutely essential to military effectiveness and lethality, also reaffirms this conclusion," Mattis wrote.

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