Transgender Students Barred From Attending Naval Academy Starting Fall 2020

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
April 18, 2019 Updated: April 18, 2019

Transgender students will be barred from enrolling in the Naval Academy at the start of the 2020 school year as the Defense Department starts enforcing Pentagon’s transgender military policy.

The policy, which bars most transgender individuals from serving unless they serve as their biological sex, took effect on April 12. The Defense Department confirmed with the Capital Gazette on April 15 that the academy will implement the policy, effectively banning transgender students from enrolling in the fall 2020 school year and beyond.

A Naval Academy spokesperson confirmed the same with The Hill. The spokesperson said, “Our understanding is that the policy will go into effect for those students applying to enter the Naval Academy in 2020, beginning with the Class of 2024.”

Students who are enrolled for fall 2019 are still under the Obama administration’s policy, which allowed transgender people to serve and also covered costs incurred for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.

President Donald Trump promised in 2017 to re-enforce a ban on transgender service members from the military that was lifted by his predecessor, President Barrack Obama, in 2016.

Groups representing transgender individuals subsequently sued the Trump administration. In those cases, the lower courts issued nationwide injunctions barring the administration from altering course. On Jan. 4, a federal court in Washington (pdf) sided with the Trump administration and lifted one of the four injunctions that barred the Pentagon from enforcing its policy.

On Jan. 22, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trump administration and lifted the preliminary injunctions on two other cases, making it another win for President Trump.

The Defense Department signed a memo on March 12 to enforce the restrictions. The memo, signed by the No. 2 official at the Pentagon, David Norquist, will allow service secretaries to issue waivers on a case-by-case basis.

According to the department’s website, the ban will be exempted for transgender individuals who joined the military before the policy takes effect and for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria who do not undergo medical treatment such as hormones or surgery.

The department said the policy does not discriminate based on gender identity but enforces the military standards on all persons, whether or not they are transgender.

“Persons with a history of gender dysphoria—a serious medical condition—and who have undergone certain medical treatment for gender dysphoria, such as cross-sex hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery, or are unwilling or unable to meet the standards associated with their biological sex, could adversely impact unit readiness and combat effectiveness. For this reason, such persons are presumptively disqualified for service without a waiver,” the department stated.

In a memo signed by Trump in 2017, he cited military focus and medical costs for reversing Obama’s policy.

“In my judgment, the previous Administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the Departments’ longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.