AMA Calls for End to Trans Military Ban; Air Force Suspends Discharges
The last week saw two major announcements related to the ongoing ban on military service by transgender people. First, on Thursday, June 4, the Air Force announced that any discharge of an airman for being transgender must be approved at the highest levels—similar to a move taken by the Army in March, and by all the armed forces leading up to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members. Then, on Monday, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a resolution holding that there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the US military.”
These announcements come as the federal government has taken numerous steps to strengthen and clarify protections for transgender people in all types of employment. The US Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have both taken the position that federal sex discrimination laws protect transgender people and have filed lawsuits and won settlements from several employers for anti-trans bias.
Despite the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, military regulations prohibit transgender people from serving openly. According to the Williams Institute, more than 15,000 transgender service members are in fact serving. The President and Secretary of Defense have signaled openness to changing the current policy, which is based on Defense Department rules and does not require congressional action to change. According to a the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in five transgender adults have served in the armed forces.