AMA Adopts Policy on Transgender Military Service

In June 2015, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a GLMA-led resolution stating “there is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals” from US military service.

“The AMA has taken the stand that there is no medical justification to exclude transgender people from military service or provide different standards of care to transgender military service members,” said Brian Hurley, GLMA’s Delegate to the AMA HOD and a GLMA board member. “I’m proud that the AMA has made an important contribution toward ending transgender military exclusion and advancing transgender equality.”

Four former US Surgeons General, including Joycelyn Elders, David Satcher, Regina Benjamin and Kenneth Moritsugu (acting), signed a statement in support of the AMA policy.

GLMA worked for almost one year to build support within the AMA for the resolution. This is the first-ever resolution GLMA has introduced since earning its seat in the HOD in 2013.

During GLMA’s 2014 Annual Conference, the Stanley Biber Memorial Lecture on Transgender Health was devoted to discussion of military service for transgender individuals. Paula Neira, a former US Navy Lieutenant and transgender veteran who is now a nurse and lawyer, led the plenary discussion, which focused on the military’s medical standards that bar service of transgender individuals.

Neira, who serves on the Transgender Military Advisory Committee of the Palm Center, which studies sexual minorities in the military, said the AMA resolution “acknowledges that the current exclusionary regulations are unsupported by modern medicine and prevent the military from taking care of our troops by denying them medically necessary care.”

Hurley along with Jeremy Toler, GLMA’s Alternate Delegate to the AMA HOD and a GLMA board member, and many other AMA and GLMA members, including Jesse Ehrenfeld, the first openly gay member of the AMA Board of Trustees, championed these efforts within the AMA. GLMA also extends its appreciation to the Palm Center, an invaluable partner and leader on military service for LGBT people.

This policy change highlights how GLMA works with health professionals associations to advance health and equality for LGBT people. GLMA is extremely grateful for the AMA’s support and stands ready to continue our work with the AMA and other health professional associations to ensure healthcare equality for LGBT people.

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