Naval Academy to enforce transgender restrictions for entering students in 2020
The U.S. Naval Academy and other service academies are beginning to enforce new restrictions on transgender students, following a Trump administration order that has drawn criticism from civil rights advocates.
Last month, the Defense Department issued a directive that sharply curtailed eligibility for military service for the transgender community. It said people with a history of gender dysphoria would be disqualified unless they have been stable in their biological sex for three years, are willing to abide by military rules applying to their gender assigned at birth, and have not transitioned and do not need to transition in the view of medical providers.
People with gender dysphoria feel a conflict between their gender assigned at birth and the gender with which they identify.
The Pentagon directive took effect Friday, reversing an Obama-era action in 2016 that allowed military personnel to serve as openly transgender. The Naval Academy in Annapolis, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs are putting it in motion.
“We’re implementing and following [Defense Department] policies,” Cmdr. David McKinney, a Naval Academy spokesman, said Wednesday.
West Point and Air Force Academy officials referred questions to the Pentagon.
McKinney said officials in Annapolis are expecting the eligibility restrictions to be enforced for prospective students in the Class of 2024 — that is, those applying to enter the Naval Academy in 2020. He said current midshipmen who are openly transgender will not be required to leave the academy.
In July 2017, President Trump abruptly announced a ban on transgender military service members through a tweet: “After consultations with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump wrote at the time. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
Defense officials say the policy that was ultimately drafted is not a complete ban. It includes exceptions that officials say will allow transgender individuals to serve as long as they don’t have gender dysphoria and follow rules for their gender assigned at birth regarding uniforms, grooming and facilities.
Critics call the Pentagon’s new policy a step backward for civil rights and for the military. They say it is tantamount to a ban on military service for transgender personnel.
“It’s an arbitrary, discriminatory exclusion that will deprive the military of talented, skilled, dedicated, idealistic young people who want to dedicate their lives to serving our country,” said Shannon Minter, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who is active in legal efforts to halt the Trump administration’s action.
Minter represents a midshipman at the Naval Academy named Regan Kibby, who is among a group of plaintiffs suing to block the Trump administration’s order.
Ann E. Marimow and Paul Sonne contributed to this report.