The Department of Defense has released its handbook detailing the implementation of transgender military service, moving the U.S. military closer to ensuring every qualified American can serve openly and honestly.
The handbook, which was released September 30, provides clarity for both service members and their commanders about the policies and procedures the military will follow when a service member is transitioning. It also provides important guidance to promote communication and understanding between the transgender service member, their commander, and other personnel.
On June 30, 2016, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the Department of Defense was finally lifting the decades-old ban on transgender people being able to openly serve in the U.S. military. Until then, the estimated 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the military were forced to serve in silence by medically out-of-date regulations.
Since July, transgender people already serving in the military have been able to serve openly without fear of being discharged simply because of their gender identity. As of October 1, those service members are now able to access all medically necessary care and are able to begin the process to officially change their gender marker in Pentagon personnel systems.