WASHINGTON -The Pentagon's new policy restricting the service of transgender troops took effect Friday following its abrupt birth by President Donald Trump's tweet in 2017 and two years of court challenges.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis directed development of the new policy and said it was needed to ensure all troops were subject to the same standards for deploying and fighting. Advocates for transgender troops, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have branded the policy "bigoted" and "disgusting" and pledged to continue challenging it.
Federal courts initially granted delays in implementing the policy requested by groups advocating for transgender troops. The last injunction was lifted in March, allowing its implementation on Friday.
In July 2017, Trump tweeted that he wanted to ban the service of transgender troops entirely. The policy has been modified to prohibit the service of most transgender individuals.
Mattis had ordered a review of the transgender policy prior to Trump's tweet, Anthony Kurta, a top Pentagon personnel official told reporters Friday. Senior officials had expressed concerns to Mattis about the effect of the policy on readiness to fight.
About 9,000 troops identified as transgender in 2016 during a survey, Kurta said. Not all of them have gender dysphoria. About 1,000 troops now serve with that diagnosis.
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Here's what's new:
Treatment doors closing
Troops who require treatment for gender dysphoria will be barred from serving. Under the previous policy adopted during the Obama administration, troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria, including surgery, could seek treatment to transition gender.
Gender dysphoria is recognized in medicine as resulting from the conflict between physical gender and gender identity. The American Medical Association and other major medical and psychiatric organizations have issued statements saying that gender dysphoria should not disqualify troops from serving.
Troops receiving treatment under the old policy are allowed to continue receiving therapy.
Birth gender must match gender in service
Transgender troops are required to serve based on their sex at birth. That means that a woman soldier who now identifies as a man must file for waivers to use men's showers and bathrooms.
Cost saving minimal, few troops affected
In 2016, the RAND Corp., a nonpartisan think tank, conducted a study on transgender troops and found that there likely were fewer than 10,000 transgender troops among the more than 1 million active-duty troops. RAND also determined that the cost of treating for transgender troops and their effect on readiness to fight were negligible.
In February, USA TODAY reported that the Pentagon has spent about $8 million in medical and psychological treatment to more than 1,500 transgender troops since July 1, 2016. The Pentagon annually spends about $50 billion on health care.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pentagon transgender troop policy takes effect, what to know