Troops in New Zealand will soon be allowed to wear makeup and uniforms in keeping with their gender identity under new policies set to go into effect on November 1.
The dress code reforms will reflect a more gender-neutral approach to presentation,and were confirmed by Chief of Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor in a statement to New Zealand news service Newshub late last week They cover members of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).
"These updates are to reflect that the RNZN make no distinction between male and female members in terms of their personal grooming and appearance,” Proctor said. "These changes reflect that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as an organisation, as are the unique traditions and characteristics of the RNZN."
Male personnel will be allowed to wear makeup, nail polish, false eyelashes, and rings on up to two fingers. Moderate perfume will also be allowed, as well as natural-colored hair dye and long hair as long as it’s in a bun or tightly braided.
But despite these changes, the dress code still emphasizes a conservative appearance, banning “exaggerated hairstyles” and accessories.
"The RNZN is a modern and professional organisation that embraces individuality and personality,” Proctor said. "However, we are a military organisation and with that comes certain expectations on our personnel in terms of dress and appearance."
New Zealand has been recognized as having one of the most diverse military forces in the world, and for years has had a policy allowing trans people and people all genders to serve.
The move comes after British military officials also indicated they’re reexamining a ban on male soldiers wearing makeup.
Last month, leaked documents showed that British troops stationed in Canada were told that makeup was limited to women only. Ironically, the language prohibiting makeup for men appears on the same page of a U.K. army memo as a statement on “equality, diversity, and inclusion.”
Following complaints, an army spokesperson told the U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail, “As an inclusive employer that recognises the diversity of its personnel, we are currently in the process of revising our guidance in this area to make it gender neutral.”
The U.K. has allowed trans people to serve since 2014, though the policy is less clear regarding nonbinary servicemembers.
Speaking to a Conservative party conference, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace vowed to maintain the military’s unequal policy, saying that men should only be allowed to wear camouflage makeup.
American military dress codes only refer to makeup for women, and do not include guidance for men.