Countries that allow transgender members in the military
Should U.S. change policy, 18 nations will continue to count transgender people among their ranks
Should Donald Trump follow through on his pledge to bar transgender people from working in the U.S. military "in any capacity," 18 countries will still allow openly transgender individuals to be members of their armed forces.
Those countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Here is a snapshot of some of those countries and their policies:
Canada ended its ban on LGBT personnel in the military in 1992. Transgender soldiers such as Cpl. Vincent Lamarre, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, now openly serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. And since Bill C-16, which makes it a crime to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and expression, was passed in the Senate in June, the military says it is updating its policies toward transgender individuals to ensure soldiers like Lamarre are accepted within its ranks.
Members of the Canadian Forces have also previously urged the U.S. military to follow Canada's transgender policy.
The Australian Defence Force removed its ban on gay and lesbian service members in 1992, but only lifted its policy barring transgender individuals in 2010. Since then, military personnel such as Maj. Donna Harding of the Australian Army Nursing Corps have been able to openly serve. Australia's military has also published a diversity handbook on how to improve inclusion for personnel who are transitioning between genders while serving.
Since 1993, Israel has allowed openly LGBT people to serve in the Israel Defence Forces. Israeli transgender soldiers such as Shachar Erez, the first transgender officer in the IDF, have been international advocates for transgender rights for military personnel. Erez travelled to Canada in April 2017 and met with senior Canadian Forces officials to discuss Canada's policies on transgender issues in the military.
The Dutch military became the first to allow LGBT individuals to serve in 1974 and it was also the first to set up an LGBT military support organization. The Royal Netherlands Army embraces a "Do Tell" policy, routinely organizes floats in pride events and remains among the most inclusive militaries for transgender soldiers, according to The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.
Since 2000, openly LGBT personnel have been allowed to serve in the United Kingdom military. For this year's London Pride Week, all British Army units flew the rainbow flag and about 200 personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force also marched in the London Pride parade. According to the British Army website, an LGBT Forum for service members also "exists to provide support to the LGBT community in particular those who may need encouragement and support to come out or in some cases to go through gender reassignment."
New Zealand's military was ranked the most inclusive in the world according to a 2014 report on LGBT military personnel from The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. In 2012, the New Zealand Defence Force created OverWatch, a program designed to provide support to LGBT personnel such as Sgt. Lucy Jordan of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, as well as to their commanders, colleagues, families and friends.
The Swedish Armed Forces are regarded as some of the most progressive in terms LGBT inclusion. Since Swedish parliamentarians passed the Discrimination Act in 2008, Swedish Armed Forces personnel such as Maj. Alexandra Larsson, who is transgender, have been legally protected against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.
Germany only legalized same-sex marriage at the end of June, but it has allowed LGBT people to serve in its military for years. In 1990, it first allowed gay people to serve in the German armed forces, known as the Bundeswehr, and removed a ban on LGBT service members becoming officers in 2000.