National Security

Pentagon Issues Transgender Directive, Offers Extended Time Off During Transition

Ashton Carter
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter / AP

The Pentagon released a manual Friday providing step-by-step instructions describing how service members can get a sex change, allowing for extended time off during the transition.

The directive orders the four military branches to set up a "Service Central Coordination Cell" to guide commanders who are overseeing sex changes, the Washington Times reported.

Commanders are in charge of approving medical treatment required for genital reconstruction surgery, hormone therapy, and recovery, all of which are funded by tax dollars.

Once the transition is complete and the service member is assigned a new "gender marker," commanders are responsible for assessing the service member’s ability to return to duty. Commanders are also required to hold training sessions explaining transgender issues and anti-discrimination efforts to their troops.

The Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military June 30. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the new policy was "the right thing to do" and would help the military recruit and retain qualified personnel.

Fewer than 2,500 of the military’s 1.3 million active duty troops are transgender, according to a mid-range estimate in a recent Rand Corp. study, and only 29 to 129 of them would seek annual treatment.

The manual prohibits service members from living as their "preferred gender" on a military base until the sex change is complete.

Commanders can offer personnel undergoing a change extended leave, voluntary absence, or a transfer to another command or duty status.

"When the military medical provider determines that a Service member’s gender transition is complete, and at a time approved by the commander in consultation with the transgender Service member, the member’s gender marker will be changed and the Service member will be recognized in the preferred gender," the directive said.