A federal judge ruled in December that the Department of Defense must allow transgender recruits to enlist in the military by Jan. 1, despite President Trump’s attempt to impose a ban on transgender troops. Nevertheless, at least one trans recruit has faced obstacles in attempting to enlist.
On January 4, BuzzFeed spoke to Parker A., a prospective military recruit and American University student who said he was turned away by two Air Force Reserves recruiters “simply for being transgender.”
The worker at the Air Force Reserve recruiting station who rejected Parker via phone confirmed Parker’s account, saying, “Right now a person who is transgender is not eligible to enter the Air Force Reserve.” He happens to be wrong, according to a spokesperson for Air Force Reserve Command who clarified to BuzzFeed on Thursday:
“We certainly regret missing a potential recruit in this situation,” said Bender. “We strive to make sure accurate information gets to our contractors, and sometimes information is slow to get to the distant ends, because we work in a bureaucracy. We are ensuring that all the call center contractors have the correct information.”
In a statement released on December 11, the Department of Defense confirmed that it would begin processing trans applicants for military service on January 1, 2018. BuzzFeed reports that spokespeople for the Air Force Reserve and the Pentagon have acknowledged that policy in the wake of Parker A.’s rejection.
We’ve reached out to the Department of Defense for comment and will update if they respond.
In a five-day-old year that’s already stuffed to the brim with bad news, it’s tempting to believe that Parker A.’s rejection really was a clerical error, and that the majority of openly transgender people who attempt to join the military will face no opposition. This is Trump’s America, though, so let’s all keep the Department of Defense public contact number handy, just in case.