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Air Force pledges medical, legal help to members with families affected by Alabama trans youth laws

Gina Ortiz Jones, Air Force under secretary (LBJ Library/Flickr)

The Air Force said it is tracking state laws affecting LGBTQ members and their families, pledging to help with medical, legal and other assistance, including for families affected by Alabama’s recently enacted controversial trans youth laws.

“The health, care and resilience of our DAF personnel and their families is not just our top priority – it’s essential to our ability to accomplish the mission,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones in a statement late last month. “We are closely tracking state laws and legislation to ensure we prepare for and mitigate effects to our Airmen, Guardians and their families. Medical, legal resources, and various assistance are available for those who need them.”

Since Ortiz Jones’ statement, the Alabama Legislature passed two laws signed by Gov. Kay Ivey affecting trans youth — legislation that criminalizes gender affirming care for minors, requires school personnel to report to parents if a student is questioning their gender identity, prohibits classroom instruction or discussion on gender identity or sexual orientation from grades K-5 and requires students in K-12 public schools to use the bathroom or locker room aligned with the gender that is assigned on their birth certificate.

If service members or their families need help with screening, treatment or mental health support for medical concerns, the Air Force said those members should start with Air Force medical treatment facilities, which can “also assist with navigating challenging life circumstances.”

The Air Force also pointed to its Exceptional Family Member Program, which assists active airmen and guardians to help families with special needs during the permanent change of station process and includes “navigating medical, legal and educational support for dependents during relocation.”

“As is the case with all of our family members, if the support a family member needs becomes unavailable, commanders can work to get the service member to an assignment where their loved ones can receive the care they need,” Jones said.

Legal offices at Air Force installations are another resource for personnel who need help navigating new and existing local laws. The legal offices cannot represent airmen or their families in court but they can “provide vital advice and counsel,” the Air Force said.

Other ways of accessing help include local Airman and Family Readiness Centers, the Military and Family Life Counseling Program, or Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647.

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