Transgender Americans have begun to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces, following the Pentagon lifting its ban on January 1.
The recruits, believed to number in the dozens, are the first wave of trans volunteers for military service since two federal courts blocked the President’s executive order barring them from the Armed Forces.
I'm going to a recruiter's office tomorrow
— Riley Dosh (@Ms_Riley_Guprz) January 1, 2018
Since then the Trump administration has dropped its efforts at defending the ban in court, but the Pentagon intends to release a new comprehensive strategy on trans troops by February 21.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if recruiters cautiously proceed, given the uncertainty about the February policy review,” Brad Carson, a former Pentagon official and one of the chief architects of the Obama policy on trans troops, told USA Today.
Medical and aptitude testing for enlistees can take six months or more, and trans recruits have to prove that they’ve been “stable” their gender for at least 18 months. Carson says it would be unlikely someone enlisting now could meet all the requirements and sign a contract by February 21. But that hasn’t stopped aspiring service members from stepping up.
“From what we are seeing, the enlistment process appears to be going smoothly, as we expected it would,” says the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Shannon Minter. “Transgender people must meet the same qualifications as others, and military recruiters are well-prepared to guide applicants through the process.”
There have been some issues: Buzzfeed reported on a D.C. trans man who was initially turned down by the Air Force Reserve on January 3, but an Air Force spokesperson indicated the recruiter, a civilian and not a service member, was “in error.”
“Nothing is more honorable than serving your country,” Evan Young, a retired Army major and president of the Transgender American Veterans Association, told NewNowNext. “It’s been a rollercoaster: You can serve. Now you can’t serve. Later, yes, you can serve. The impact has been a huge stress for our community. But… I feel that the justice system can finally put this issue to rest.”