Transgender Airmen have option to skip physical fitness tests

Base personnel perform a squat stretch during a natural running form clinic at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Oct. 6, 2016. More than 50 people signed up for this one-day course, to improve their running. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

Transgender airmen on their way to a new gender have been given the option to opt out of taking physical fitness tests.

A memorandum signed by the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, confirmed this change in regulation in the beginning of October.

Transgender airmen -active duty, reserve, and national guard- in the middle of hormone treatment can ask to skip physical training assessments “during their period of transition, prior to a gender marker change in the MilPDS,” if they have failed a test.

After failing a fitness test the Airman’s commander must certify that they tried to the best of their ability to meet the standards associated with their current gender -the gender they are transitioning from.

The commanders input will be pushed up the chain of command, through the Service Central Coordination Cell at Air Force headquarters, to Air Force headquarters to make a decision.

“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,” Deborah James said in a press release. “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.”

Currently, Air Force policy stipulates that a transgender airman may not be involuntarily separated, discharged or denied re-enlistment or continuation of service solely on the basis of his or her gender identity but they may not join.

All military services will allow transgender individuals to join the armed forces no later than July 1, 2017.

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