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Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly

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Technical Report

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RAND National Defense Research Institute Santa Monica United States

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U.S. Department of Defense DoD policies have rendered both the physical and psychological aspects of transgender conditions as disqualifying conditions for accession and allow for the administrative discharge of service members who fall into these categories. However, in July 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that DoD would create a working group to study the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. In addition, he directed that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria1 or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to the Under Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness, who will make determinations on all potential separations DoD, 2015b.It is against this backdrop that DoD is considering allowing transgender personnel to serve openly. To assist in identifying the potential implications of such a change in policy, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness asked the RAND National Defense Research Institute to conduct a study to 1 identify the health care needs of the transgender population, transgender service members potential health care utilization rates, and the costs associated with extending health care coverage for transition-related treatments 2 assess the potential readiness implications of allowing transgender service members to serve openly and 3 review the experiences of foreign militaries that permit transgender service members to serve openly. This report documents the findings from that study. This research should be of interest to DoD and military service leadership, members of Congress, and others who are interested in the potential implications of allowing transgender personnel to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.

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