Transitioning from one sex to another can never be a blissful time—it’s difficult to gauge just how hard given the extreme majority of us will never experience it—and doing so in a military environment is even more difficult.
However, airemen and airwomen of the United States Air Force can now look forward to a simplified “transitioning” process after it was reported those in the middle of their sex change will be permitted to skip fitness tests.
It’s a burgeoning new development announced by Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah James, who last month published the Air Force Policy Memorandum for In-Service Transition for Airmen Identifying as Transgender.
What this means is those receiving hormone therapy to move from male to female or vice versa will now have special permission to bypass any testing during what one can only imagine to be an extremely exhausting time already.
Fluctuating testosterone or estrogen levels can be hard enough to deal with on your average day, nevermind doing so while attempting to prove you belong among some of the fittest miitary personnel on the planet.
However, the decision is likely to raise a lot of eyebrows in regards to what should be expected of those serving in the Air Force and whether applicants can afford to miss out on such a crucial aspect of their certification.
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It’s worth noting a test subject must first fail a test as the gender from which they are transitioning in order to qualify to request bypassing the hurdle. Even then, Air Force headquarters must review each request after the applicant’s direct commander has certified they “tried to the best of their ability to meet the standards associated with their current gender.”
James, the second woman to ever hold the position of Secretary of the Air Force, has long been an advocate for transgender rights in her post. Her memo read:
“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.”
There isn’t a person out there who can justifiably argue against the case that we should all be equal and have equal opportunities, whether that’s in the Air Force or flippin’ burgers at Burger King. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter, though, is the topic of equality when it comes to those going through such abnormal circumstances. Not only was it reported earlier this year that the Pentagon will start footing the bill for gender reassignment surgery, per the Daily Mail, but questions will now be asked as to the physical conditioning of those trans military members who may pass fitness test.
James’ memo goes on to reiterate that no pass will be granted, however, until a commanding officer has given the respective case a green light:
“Until an ETP request has been approved, transgender Airmen must adhere to their current gender’s dress and appearance standards as reflected in MilPDS.”
This is still a very fresh matter, of course, and there may already be a system in place to deal with those subjects who skip testing immediately after their transition is complete—but what of their fitness in the meantime (during transition)?
Have no fear; the Air Force isn’t going to be manned by a throng of unfit trans people anytime soon, but another question may be whether those undergoing such a massive alteration are fit to serve in that period anyway.
Is there any period of paid relief, where airmen and airwomen can recover without risking any kind of burden to their fellow staff or, in the grander scheme of things, the nation?
This latest development is a major win for equality and the advances we’re gradually making in accepting those military personnel who identify with a gender other than the one they were born with.
However, with a matter that’s still so new and unknown to many, identifying its risks and potential dangers is another matter to deal with.