New guidance given to the U.S. Air Force says transgender airmen can be exempted from participating in fitness assessments while they are undergoing hormone treatment.
On Oct. 6, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James provided Air Force commanders with guidance that explains how to accommodate transgender airmen without sacrificing group cohesion, the Air Force Times reports.
“Transgender airmen serve alongside us with integrity, service and excellence,” James said. “This is another step in allowing transgender airmen to serve openly, receive medical care relating to gender transition and allow transgender individuals to join the Air-Force.”
In June, the Defense Department rescinded a longstanding ban on transgender people from openly serving in the military, Mother Jones reports.
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A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender active-duty service members currently serve in the U.S. military. Transgender airmen are now eligible for hormone therapy or gender-reassignment surgery if they are cleared by a medical provider.
“The Secretary of Defense has made clear that service members with a diagnosis from a military medical provider indicating that gender transition is medically necessary will be provided medical care and treatment for the diagnosed medical condition,” Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson said.
Providing service members with gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy is estimated to cost an additional 0.13 percent of current military spending.
The Pentagon has projected spending for each transgender servicemember's treatment to be between $40,000 and $50,000, according to Military.com.
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After a transgender airman is diagnosed by a military medical provider, the servicemember will establish with their a commander a timetable for hormone therapy.
Transgender airmen in the middle of hormone treatment can request to be exempt from participating in the standard fitness assessments. The airman must prove that they had failed a fitness assessment and the commander must determine if they had made a full and sincere effort to pass the test.
If their commander approves, the transgender airman will have their request for exemption considered by the Service Central Coordination Cell. If even they are granted an exemption, they would still have to continue taking part in physical activities and take all measures to remain fit.