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Military Records

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, nearly one in five transgender people are military service members or veterans, almost twice the rate in the general population. As transgender vets know, records with former names or outdated gender designations can put people's privacy at risk and lead to harassment when applying for jobs or benefits and in other situations. Fortunately, it is now easier to update these records.

Does the Dept. of Defense Have Standard Guidance for Updating Your Name and Gender Marker on Military Records?

Currently there is no publicly available guidance from the Department of Defense on how to update your information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and on the DD214 Military Discharge Record. NCTE continues to seek this guidance from the Defense Department. Until clear guidance is published, below are our recommendations for how to update your information on military records.

How Do I Change My Name on My DD214 Military Discharge Record?

Congress authorized the correction of military records when it is considered necessary to rectify an error or to remove an injustice [10 U.S.C. § 1552 (a)(1)]. The form DD214 does not list gender, but it does list your name. While for most non-transgender people a service record showing a former name does not communicate any sensitive information, for transgender people disclosure of the former name can be equivalent to disclosure of transgender status. This disclosure can be considered an injustice, and is the basis for your request to update your name on the DD214.

Each military department has their own Board for Corrections of Military Records, and each Board has the discretion to evaluate requested corrections on a case-by-case basis. The websites for each Board and the address to submit your application for correction are in the Additional Resources section at the end of this document. Generally speaking, to update your DD 214 Military Discharge Record you will need the following:

What Should I Say on the DD149 Form to Request a Name Change?
The DD149 form gives you the opportunity to make a case for why having a prior name on your military record is an injustice for you. You should personalize your responses on the DD149 form according to your situation. Below is sample language to give you an idea of how you can make your case. Because the Department of Defense has not published written guidance on this issue, this is simply NCTE’s recommendation and may be updated over time.

Question 1.b Name: Next to Name write in (on DD214), and then list your name as shown on your current DD214. 

Question 3 Type of Discharge: Character of service associated with the discharge, such as Honorable, General, Other Than Honorable (OTH), Bad Conduct (BCD) or Entry Level Separation (ELS). 

Question 5. I request the following error or injustice in the record be corrected as follows:
I request correction of Block 1 of DD214 to "LAST NAME, First MI" to reflect my current legal name.

Question 6. I believe the record to be in error or unjust for the following reasons:
I am a transgender [man/woman/person]. I changed my legal name from [prior name] to [current name] in [year], as evidenced in the attached name change order, to align my name with my gender identity. The appearance of my old name on my DD 214 is an injustice because it discloses my transgender status every time I show my DD 214.  This is an injustice due to the social stigma and discrimination that transgender people face. This injustice can be remedied effectively by issuing a corrected DD214 listing my current legal name. See attached for further explanation. 

Sample Army Injustice Explanation        ----  Relevant Army Board for Correction of Military Records Decision
Sample Navy Injustice Explanation         ----  Relevant Navy Board for Correction of Military Records Decision
Sample Air Force Injustice Explanation  ----  Relevant Air Force Board for Corrections of Military Records Decision

Question 7 Organization: The command you were serving at when you were discharged. This information is listed in block 8a on your DD214.

Question 8. Discovery of Alleged Error or Injustice

a. Date of Discovery – You can put in a date that was important in your transition process—such as the date when you socially transitioned, legally changed your name, or updated your identification, or you can use a date when you attempted to use your DD 214 and you were “outed”.

b. If more than three years since the alleged error or injustice was discovered, state why the board should find it in the interest of justice to consider the application, such as: I was not previously aware that it was possible to remedy this injustice, and I request correction of my record so I will not continue to have to reveal my transgender status every time I show my DD214.

What Evidence Should I Submit Along With My DD Form 149?

  • You should bring evidence of your legal name change, such as a certified copy of your name change order.
  • We recommend also including as many as you have available of the following documents:
    • A U.S. Passport showing your updated name and gender
    • A state driver’s license or identification card showing your updated name and gender
    • A court order recognizing your gender transition
    • A signed statement, on office letterhead, from a licensed physician, verifying that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition (see the definition of appropriate clinical treatment below). You can download a sample physician letter here.

How Do I Update My Name and Gender in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)?

In order to change your name and gender in DEERS, the DEERS/RAPIDS Service Project Office for your military department must submit a request to Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA) for review and implementation. A gender (or name) change in DEERS will not affect the eligibility of any of your existing dependents for military benefits.

What Documents Should a Name and Gender Change Request Include?
The Service Project Office of your military department should submit scans of the below documentation for DHRA review, with the subject line “DEERS Record Change Request ICO First Name Last Name”.

  • Two forms of identification that are listed as acceptable on the federal Form I-9, one of which is a government-issued picture ID. Passports, driver’s licenses and Social Security cards are recommended, but the Department of Defense will accept all documents on page 9 of the I-9 list (http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-9.pdf).
  • If name change is requested, a court order legally changing your name.
  • If gender marker change is requested, a signed statement, on office letterhead, from a licensed physician. The statement must include the following information:
    • Physician’s full name;
    • Medical license or certificate number;
    • Issuing state or other jurisdiction of medical license/certificate;
    • DEA registration number assigned to the physician;
    • Address and telephone number of the physician;
    • Language stating that the physician is your physician and has a doctor/patient relationship with you;
    • Language stating you have had the appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to male/female (for a definition of appropriate clinical treatment see question three below); and,
    • Language stating “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct.”

How will I know that my DEERS record has been updated?
DHRA will confirm with the Service Project Office when the record has been updated. The Project Office must then follow existing Service procedures to send an update to Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), or the Service equivalent pay office, to allow DFAS, or the Service equivalent pay office, to update its system with the corrected gender.

How do I change my gender in DEERS if I am in active duty service?
Active duty service members can learn more about how to update your gender marker in DEERS by looking at this handbook from DOD.

Application Information for each military department’s Board for Correction of Military Records:

Branch Board for Correction of Military Records How to Apply
Army Army Board for the Correction of Military Records
http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/abcmr-app.cfm
Online or by mail:
http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/online-application.cfm
Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA)
251 18th Street South, Suite 385
Arlington, VA 22202-3531
Navy and
Marine Corp
Board for the Correction of Naval Records
http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/career/recordsmanagement/Pages/BCN...
Fax or by mail: FAX # 703-604-3437
Board for Correction of Naval Records
701 S. Courthouse Road, Suite 1001
Arlington, VA 22204-2490
Coast Guard Board for the Correction of Military Records of the Coast Guard http://www.uscg.mil/legal/bcmr.asp Mail: DHS Office of the General Counsel
Board for Correction of Military Records
Mailstop # 485, 245 Murray Lane
Washington, DC 20528
Air Force Air Force Board for the Correction of Military Records
http://www.afpc.af.mil/afveteraninformation/airforceboardforcorrectionof...
Mail: Board for Correction of Air Force Records
SAF/MRBR
550-C Street West, Suite 40
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4742

What is “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition”?

People’s gender transition needs vary, and treatment options are decided between individuals and health care professionals on a case-by-case basis. The phrase “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” is meant to capture a range of treatments that may be appropriate, in each individual case, to facilitate gender transition. Clinical treatment methods are outlined in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, and treatment can include psychotherapy, changes in gender expression and role, hormone therapy, or surgery, or any combination thereof. No specific treatment is required, and details of your treatment need not be provided. In fact, NCTE encourages you and your provider to only state in the letter that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. Details about surgery, hormone treatment, or other treatments are unnecessary and not helpful.

 

Additional Resources

SPART*A – Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All: An LGBT Military Community
http://www.spartapride.org/

Transgender American Veteran’s Association
http://www.transveteran.org

OutServe - Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
https://www.outserve-sldn.org/

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