Story at a glance

  • A Naval officer sued the Pentagon over the ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.
  • The Navy granted the officer a waiver to serve “in their preferred gender.”
  • This is the first such waiver to be issued under the Trump administration’s new policy.

The first transgender officer granted a waiver to openly serve in the United States military under the Trump administration’s current ban is known only as Jane Doe. 


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In March, the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a suit on her behalf against the Pentagon over the policy, the first challenge to the ban after it went into effect in April 2019. While those who came out as transgender under the Obama administration's policy have been allowed to continue serving openly and receive medical care, anyone who came out after can only serve under their assigned gender at birth. 

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"The acting Secretary of the Navy has approved a specific request for exemption related to military service by transgender persons and persons with gender dysphoria," Navy spokeswoman Lt. Brittany Stephens told CNN.

Doe had requested the waiver to have her gender marker changed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and allow her to serve under her gender, Stephens told CNN, which includes adhering to uniform and grooming standards set for women in the military. 

"There is no basis for treating transgender service members differently by requiring them to seek a waiver that no one else has to obtain in order to continue to serve,” said Shannon Minter, NCLR Legal Director.While we are relieved for our client, requiring transgender service members to jump through this discriminatory hoop makes no sense and only underscores the irrationality of the ban. Being transgender has nothing to do with a person’s fitness to serve, and transgender individuals should be held to the same standards as other service members.” 


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Now a lieutenant, Doe was commissioned as a naval officer in 2010, the Hill previously reported, and has served two extended tours of duty as a surface warfare officer. After being diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a military doctor, she came out to her commanding officer. 

"The ban has been in place for over a year and this is the first waiver to be granted,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director, in a release. "While we are relieved that our client, a highly qualified Naval officer, will be able to continue her service, there are other equally qualified transgender service members who have sought waivers and are still in limbo, despite being perfectly fit to serve. Dedicated military service members shouldn't have to bring a lawsuit to be able to continue doing their job." 


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Published on May 15, 2020