New guidelines initiated by the Air Force this October state that transgender air pilots in the process of switching genders can now apply to be exempt from physical fitness testing for combat readiness, if they fail the tests. Accordingly, “during their period of transition, prior to a gender marker change in the MilPDS,” transgender pilots in the middle of hormone therapy can ask to be excused from testing.
If they attempt the test, fail, and ask for exemption, their responding officer or commander must certify that they attempted “their best” to complete the test associated with the gender they are currently, not the gender they are transitioning away from. Afterwards, according to the new policy, Air Force headquarters must then render a decision on the matter when it moves up the chain of command.
Another installed policy will allow transitioning transgenders to wear the uniform of their choice, regardless of their current gender. The old policy states if you’re identified as man, you must use the uniform Air Force male pilots are required to wear, and vice versa for women. This is no longer the case under the new guidelines.
This same policy will now hold for same exemption structure holds for housing, bathrooms and showers. These facilities can be chosen by “transgender identity,” not official state record gender of birth.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who spearheaded the new policy, released the following statement:
“This is another step in allowing transgender Airmen to serve openly, receive medical care relating to gender transition and allow transgender individuals to join the Air Force. Our strengths as a military are the quality and character of our people, and those things that make us unique are the same things that make us strong.”
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