Austin creates safe haven for transgender troops as DoD solidifies policy

The Defense Department is making it clear that all activities restricting transgender people from serving in the military will be put on pause until the Pentagon can untangle the policies put into place by the Trump administration restricting those people from participating.

DoD is undergoing a 60 day review to figure out exactly what instructions it needs to put out and policies it needs to change to reverse former President Donald Trump’s decision.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed a Jan. 29 memo stating that he will work with senior civilian and military leaders of the department to develop the appropriate policies and procedures to make those changes.

Until then, the old memo restricting transgender people from serving, which was put in place under former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, shall not be used unless an action is personally approved by the undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness in conjunction with the DoD general counsel.

“Adverse personnel include all administrative separations, denial of accession or reenlistment, disability evaluation or petition to serve in one’s preferred gender,” the author of the memo states.

On Jan. 25, President Joe Biden signed an executive order reversing Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military.

“All Americans who are qualified to serve in the armed forces of the United States should be eligible to serve,” Austin’s memo states. “All transgender individuals who wish to serve in the U.S. military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.”

The Palm Center, along with the former director of health and safety for the Coast Guard Alan Steinman, released a detailed memo on how the Pentagon can easily restore an inclusive transgender policy.

That memo states there is no need for DoD to redevelop guidance or redraft language because “everything needed already exists in current military guidance and remains a part of current military practice.”

The memo states Trump’s ban could be completely reversed within 30 days.

“The Department of Defense left all the necessary breadcrumbs to mark the way back to inclusive service,” the authors stated. “DoD’s plan to implement Trump’s ban was always inconsistent because it served contradictory goals. On the one hand, DoD announced from the start that “the department will carry out the president’s policy direction,” which was to return to the prior era of disqualifying transgender Americans from military service. On the other hand, DoD also wanted the flexibility to retain the transgender personnel who were already in service or contracted to join.”

As a result, DoD created a two-track policy that established a general ban, but also retained an inclusive policy for transgender personnel who were already serving openly.

“The path to restoring inclusive policy is based on erasing separate tracks of grandfathered and non-grandfathered transgender personnel and returning to a single military standard that everyone, transgender or otherwise, is expected to meet,” the memo states. “Consistent with decades of military research findings, the optimal framework will be to apply one standard to all, nothing more, nothing less.”

Trump’s ban was widely panned by lawmakers, military officials and medical professionals. The consensus was that it would cause more harm than good when it came to readiness and budget.

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