Following the Defense Department's lifting of the ban on transgender service members in June, the Navy Department is preparing to provide medical and administrative support for transitioning sailors and Marines, train personnel on the particulars of serving in a transgender-inclusive force and, by next summer, accept transgender recruits into boot camp.
For the department's purposes, a transgender service member is defined as someone who has been diagnosed by a military medical professional who determines that a transition is medically necessary, according to ALNAV 053/16.
Starting this fall, sailors and Marines with a diagnosis who are beginning, in the process of, or have completed transitioning will be able to petition to have their gender markers changed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.
And next summer, boot camps will begin accepting transgender prospects at boot camp, officer candidate schools, ROTC and the Naval Academy
"These policies and procedures are premised on the conclusion that open service by transgender Sailors and Marines, while being subject to the same standards and procedures as other members with regard to their medical fitness for duty, physical fitness, uniform and grooming, deployability, and retention, is consistent with military readiness," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wrote in the message.
As of the message's Aug. 5 release, transgender sailors and Marines may serve openly and cannot be involuntarily separated or denied re-enlistment for their gender identity.
By Oct. 1, the Defense Department will have training handbooks for commanding officers, transgender troops and the rest of the force, as well as guidance for medical professionals overseeing transitions.
At that point, the Military Health System will also be required to provide medical care for transitions, including hormone therapy and counseling.
Sailors will develop and execute a transition plan in coordination with their health care providers and commands, according to a chief of naval personnel spokeswoman. Once that is completed, they can change their genders in DEERS.
"When they're in transition, they're in the initial gender," Lt. Jessica Anderson told Navy Times.
Transition plans will be tailored to the individual, but a completed transition will require at least a legal identity change, such as a passport or birth certificate, Anderson said.
Surgery, she added, will not be required.
During transition, sailors will be recognized as their birth gender. For instance, a male sailor transitioning to life as a woman will continue to stay in male berthings, be subject to male fitness standards and observe male grooming rules.
"There could be exceptions but as of right now, that's not where we're going," Anderson said.
The guidance transition plans will be firmed up by Oct. 1, she added. And starting in November, there will be fleetwide training on the integration of transgender troops.
That training must be completed by July 1, 2017, according to the ALNAV, when the Navy and Marine Corps begin accepting transgender troops.
DoD will also revise its anti-discrimination guidelines to include gender identity, the message said.
While the Navy Department puts together its guidelines for completing a gender change in DEERS, sailors and Marines are required to submit requests to have their transgender status recognized through the first general or flag officer in their chain of command, and it will be fed up to the assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs for a final decision.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.