For the first time in the history of its existence, the Pentagon will allow transgender individuals to enlist in the armed forces under the gender they identify with, NBC reports.
According to a memo released by the Department of Defense on Dec. 8, if an applicant’s preferred gender is different than their birth sex, they can join the armed forces if he or she presents a passport, court order or birth certificate listing the individual’s preferred gender.
Upon acceptance, the applicant will be processed into the military under that gender.
The military will determine room assignments, height, weight and underwear requirements, medical exams and bathroom assignments based on the “preferred” gender, even if the person still possesses “the anatomical characteristics of their birth sex,” according to the memo.
The memo also details how transgender individuals are to operate in the military, specifying that transgender males who have not undergone hormone therapy or surgery to reflect their chosen gender will wear undergarments “consistent with their physical anatomy.” The memo states that these individuals will also be given pregnancy tests while undergoing in-processing.
Applicants (both male and female) who have had sex reassignment surgery/genital reconstruction will not be able to join the military unless they have been physically and emotionally stable for a minimum of 18 months.
“Every applicant will be treated with dignity and respect,” the memo says.
Those who do not identify as either sex will be classified according to their birth gender.
“We are substantially satisfied,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Our whole goal here is not to have some unique rules. … We just want transgender people to be treated exactly the same as everyone else.”
According to Pentagon spokesman Major Dave Eastburn, the government entity will comply with the recent court ruling, but he also noted that the administration has not finalized its pursuit of other legal options.
The policy review is reportedly scheduled to be completed before the end of March.