Air Force Eases Policy on Transgender Troops

The Air Force will make it more difficult to discharge transgender troops — a move that puts the Pentagon a step closer to allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender are generally discharged from serving due to medical reasons, decisions made in the past by both doctors and unit commanders. Now, the Air Force’s new policy announced Thursday requires those decisions to be reviewed by high-level officials at Air Force headquarters.

“Though the Air Force policy regarding involuntary separation of gender dysphoric Airmen has not changed, the elevation of decision authority to the Director, Air Force Review Boards Agency, ensures the ability to consistently apply the existing policy,” Daniel Sitterly, a top Air Force personnel official, said in a statement.

The Army made a similar move in March. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the ability to perform military tasks should be the standard for military eligibility — not if a person is transgender.