A recently leaked Department of Defense (DOD) memo has sparked controversy, revealing that transgender soldiers undergoing hormone therapy may be exempt from deployments for up to 300 days. The memo, originating from the Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) at Fort Liberty, outlines the treatment protocols for transgender service members and sheds light on the potential impact on military readiness.
Extended Stabilization Periods for Hormone Therapy
According to the memo, most transgender service members will require up to 300 days to stabilize on cross-sex hormone therapy. During this period, they will remain in a non-deployable status. However, the length of the stabilization period is contingent upon the service member’s clinical progress and overall stability.
Optional Surgical Care and Treatments
The DOD memo also outlines various treatments and surgeries that transgender troops may receive at WAMC, funded by taxpayers. After 12 months of hormone therapy, transgender service members have the option to request “upper” and “bottom” surgery. Interestingly, the memo states that surgery can be requested without first undergoing hormone therapy.
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Covered and Non-Covered Procedures
While “upper” surgery can be performed at WAMC and is a covered benefit, other surgeries, such as “bottom” surgery and “voice feminization” surgery, are not covered. The memo highlights that transitioning service members will be offered voice and communication therapy. Facial/body contouring is also mentioned, but it is considered cosmetic and not covered. Laser hair removal is deemed medically necessary for “bottom” surgery but is considered cosmetic in other cases.
Transition Timeline and Exceptions to Policy
The memo indicates that a gender transition can take between 9 and 18 months to complete. During this period, service members may request exceptions to policy to align with their self-identified gender standards for uniform, grooming, fitness testing, as well as billeting, bathroom, and shower facilities. However, it states that unit commanders must approve the timeline of medical treatment plans, with the possibility of adjusting specific treatments to minimize readiness impact.
Response and Guidance from WAMC
The memo, signed by Army Col. David Ross Zinnante, provides updated guidance to WAMC staff following the Biden administration’s policy allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military. The DOD memo highlights the need for unit commanders’ involvement in determining the treatment timeline for transgender service members.
Controversy and Ongoing Discussion
The leaked memo has sparked intense debate surrounding the treatment of transgender soldiers and its potential impact on military readiness. The Biden administration’s policy reversal, allowing transgender individuals to serve, has faced both support and criticism. As discussions continue, the memo’s contents raise questions about the balance between inclusivity and maintaining operational effectiveness within the armed forces.
What are your thoughts on the DOD memo and its implications for transgender soldiers and military readiness? Should hormone therapy affect deployment status? Share your opinions in the comments below and join the ongoing conversation. Together, we can explore the complexities of this issue and foster understanding and dialogue.