Q: Are transgender people deployable to forward locations and other austere environments?
A: Yes. In fact, DoD has been deploying transgender individuals for over a decade as civilians and contractors to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf and embedding them with US forces there.In this capacity, transgender Americans have served openly in forward locations such as Camp Anaconda and Balad Air Base in Iraq, New Kabul Compound and Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, and aboard US Navy ships operating in the Persian Gulf. Additionally, our allies have successfully deployed transgender service members for more than 20 years and into every theater of the war on terror. There are no special medical requirements that would prevent a transgender service member from deploying to any location where US troops serve today.
Q: Will providing transgender service members access to necessary medications place an additional burden on the military health care system?
A: No. The military health care system already provides the medications commonly used for HRT to non-transgender service members as treatment for other conditions. HRT for transgender service members would not require new pharmaceuticals, logistics, or significant cost.
Q: What if a transgender service member is prevented from accessing their medications due to logistical or tactical circumstances?
A: Such a situation is highly unlikely. Allied militaries in which transgender individuals serve openly have found the rate of such occurrences to be extremely low. In those circumstances where temporary loss of access to HRT medications is truly unavoidable, the effects are neither debilitating nor life threatening.
I was on oral HRT from day one as this was prescribed by my NHS endocrinologist, and simply stocked up from my medical center before deployment. When I suddenly found myself extended for 2 months in the Falklands in 2011, I ordered more through the medical center there.
– Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom, RAF
Q: Will transgender service members spend a lot of time in a non-deployable status?
A: No. Transgender service members in other countries report spending less than six months total in a medically non-deployable status. Typically, the medical elements of transition that might affect readiness are scheduled so as not to impact unit readiness (i.e. while the unit is on a home cycle).
I was kept at G1 A1 Z1 [physically fit for flying and ground deployment without any restriction] and retained my flying category throughout, with the exceptions of having a month off flying duties when I began my HRT (which is the standard time-period for any long-term medication) and 6 months off flying in total, following my Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS), during which time I was medically downgraded to P7 (non- deployable)... Shortly after I began HRT though, before my public transition, I was deployed for 7 weeks to the Falkland Islands in a flying role and again for 9 weeks towards the end of my transition, a few months before my GRS.
I am now A1 P2, which means there’s no restriction to my flying or my deploying and is simply a marker to show I am on long-term medication.29 – Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom, RAF