Military registration and service for transgender people

Many countries have mandatory military service for some people who live there. The rules vary by country, and in some countries, transgender people are required to serve.

Other countries have mandatory registration for possible conscription.

United States

IMPORTANT: Call to confirm current requirements. This page may not be up to date.

According to United States Selective Service System policy, transgender people between ages 18 and 25 who were assigned male at birth must register. This includes most citizens and people living in the United States, even undocumented migrants.

Transgender people who were assigned female at birth do not need to register.

NOTE: Transgender students are welcome to contact Selective Service regarding their registration requirements if they are unclear about how they should answer Question 21 or Question 22 on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or need a status information letter from Selective Service that clarifies whether or not they are exempt from the registration requirement. This can be done by calling our Registration Information Office on 1-888-655-1825. Individuals who have changed their gender to male will be asked to complete a request form for a status information letter and provide a copy of their birth certificate. One exemption letter may be used in multiple school financial aid processes.

Source: https://www.sss.gov/Registration/Who-Must-Register/Chart

Changing your name in Selective Services records

If you legally change your name prior to your 18th birthday, you can register under that name. If you legally change your name between your 18th and 26th birthdays, you may not be able to update your record of registration. A reader got the following letter in response to a request for removal of her old name from publicly available files:

Under the Military Selective Service Act there is no provision to delete the name of a person who was legally required to register from our registrant data base. As a person who was born a male you were legally required to register, and could have been drafted until you turned age 26. Had you become a female prior to turning age 26, and you were drafted, you could have received an exemption from military service.

With respect to your request for Selective Service to restrict public access to your registration information, your right to privacy does not outweigh the public’s right to know who has or has not complied with the registration requirement in accordance with Federal law. Such public information helps ensure that any future draft is fair and equitable. Hence, the disclosure of your registration information would not be a “clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”. Indeed, it’s questionable whether any privacy right exists because the information is of such a nature that no general expectation of privacy exists. In fact, the Agency’s Privacy Act Statement on registration forms says that registration information may be disclosed to certain government agencies and the general public.

Finally, while an employer could go to SSS online verification page to determine who registered, there would be no legitimate reason for an employer to attempt to determine if a female employee registered because they are not required to register. This would only occur, most likely, if the employer had already discovered your past. Please note that an employer would be subject to a sex discrimination suit if it discharged or discriminated against an employee based on gender.

Rudy Sanchez, Office of the General Counsel

Resources

United States Selective Service System (sss.gov)