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National Service

Transgender women who declare themselves to be trans before being enlisted – i.e., having received psychiatric evaluation and certification and presenting it during the CMPB medical assessment, or simply telling the CMPB medical officer during the aforementioned assessment – will be given a PES E (lowest physical enlistment standard, indicating no physical exercise and only clerical duties) during service.

However, if medical or social transition has started, a PES D (temporary designation to indicate further processing is necessary) will be given. In the latter case the pre-enlistee will be allowed to continue with their lives until an unknown amount of time (word on the street says 1 year) has passed on hormones or presenting as female, or both, in which case they will be given PES F (exemption).

A similar policy applies for transgender women who have completed their two years of national service and are categorised under “NSMen”. As an NSF in service, it is generally unlikely that one can be discharged midway through service even if one declares she is trans. SAF policy does not allow exemptions based solely upon the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Unless a comorbidity that on its own would merit exemption/discharge has been diagnosed, the full two years will have to be served, albeit typically in a clerical capacity (for those who have declared). Transgender persons in service can seek counselling at the SAF counselling centre, where they will generally match your case to a counsellor who has experience or can best serve your needs.

Trans men who have legally changed their sex to male will automatically receive an enlistment letter in the mail. There does not seem to be any consistent protocol concerning what happens next, however. Some trans men were told they should serve, but were allowed a medical exemption if they wished. Others were told they could not serve even if they wanted to. Another trans man was told that if he wanted to serve, he would be using the male barracks and common showers like the other recruits, and SAF would not be held liable should he experience sexual assault as a result.

Should you decide not to serve, you will be given a medical exemption and PES F. This must be settled prior to leaving the country for any reason, or else you may be flagged at the border.


Disclaimer: Information on this site is for general information only. It does not constitute legal or medical advice and is not a substitute for obtaining advice from a qualified professional. We do not represent or warrant that this information is suitable, reliable, complete, accurate or up-to-date.