Army Training Tells Soldiers Not to Gossip About Transgender Troops

Soldiers engage in 'real life experience' by 'wearing make-up, wigs, and female clothing' off-duty

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July 11, 2017

The United States Army's training for how to handle transgender issues instructs troops not to gossip about male soldiers who identify as female.

The hour-long mandatory training is being issued in response to the Obama administration's directive to integrate transgender soldiers into the military. Last week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis delayed the Obama policy by six months.

The Army is still moving forward with its transgender training, which is conducted in the morning in place of physical training, the Federalist reported.

The guidelines reveal that soldiers only need to get a diagnosis from a medical doctor and change their gender in a database before showering with the opposite sex.

The Army's tips for an "inclusive environment" include no gossip.

"Social interactions and developing friendships with peers are what contribute to a positive work environment," the training states. "Maintain an inclusive environment and do not gossip. In accordance with good order and discipline, do not ask a colleague or subordinate for their personal information unless it is mission related."

"This includes information about a Soldier's gender identity, sexuality, medical challenges, and/or gender transition," the guidance states.

The military encourages service members to engage in "real life experience" activities during their transition process.

Real life experience, or RLE, is defined by the Army as the "phase in the gender transition process when the individual commences living socially in the gender role consistent with their preferred gender." RLE will "generally occur in an off-duty status and away from the Soldier's place of duty prior to the change of the gender marker in [the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System] DEERS."

The Pentagon uses the example of a male soldier, who has not yet had a sex change, wearing wigs and dressing in female clothes off-duty to complete their RLE.

The scenario was included in the transgender handbook issued by the Department of Defense under the Obama administration last fall.

"A Service member has been undergoing transition for the last three months, from male to female, and has not yet changed his gender marker in the Service's personnel database system," the handbook states. "The unit is aware of his transition. He is preparing to begin his RLE after duty hours (i.e., wearing make-up, wigs, and female clothing) and would like to do so in his barracks room, unit day room, and on the military installation."

"He is still using the male facilities," the handbook adds.

The Pentagon's advice is for commanders to "consider authorizing extended leave," or transfer to the reserves to "allow the Service member to live in their preferred gender and conduct RLE."

The transgender handbook also discusses a soldier who wants to transition from "Eric" to "Erica." Another scenario addresses how "Tony" might receive a waiver from the male physical readiness standards while he is becoming "Tanya" and perform the less rigorous female standards at a later date.

The Pentagon also suggests commanders could require all male soldiers to wear shirts during a swim test if a woman, who identifies as a man and has not had breast reduction surgery, wishes to wear a male bathing suit.

Another scenario discusses the pregnancy of "Lieutenant Marty."

"Lieutenant Marty changed his gender marker in the Service personnel data system from female to male after completing an approved transition plan. Lieutenant Marty has not had sex reassignment surgery as part of the transition plan and is working with his [military medical provider] MMP on a plan to start a family. Lieutenant Marty approached his commanding officer a few weeks ago and mentioned he was pregnant."

"Be aware that colleagues may find this situation confusing," the handbook states.

The new Army training largely follows the Pentagon's handbook and includes a PowerPoint and accompanying lesson plan, shared by James Hasson, a former Army captain and veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

The Army gives definitions for gender identity, "preferred gender," and the "Transgender Soldier."

The training discusses allowing a male soldier to shower with females because he has changed his gender in the military database. "Because she did not undergo a surgical change, the Soldier still has male genitalia," the Army training states.

All soldiers are to use the "billeting, bathroom, and shower facilities associated with their gender marker" in the DEERS database.

Secretary Mattis's decision to delay the Obama administration transgender policy does not affect transgender individuals who are already serving in the military. Military chiefs will now have until Dec. 1 to conduct a review to determine whether new transgender enlistments will be taken.