By Stephanie Curry, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance
This past August, President Trump issued a memorandum giving the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security (the “Departments”) the opportunity to extensively study the impact of allowing transgender individuals into the military.
Now the Departments have completed their extensive studies, after assembling a Panel of Experts and pouring through mountains of data. Their findings, which were submitted to the White House, are not surprising.
Medical History Causes Substantial Risk
The Departments concluded that there are “substantial risks associated with allowing the accession and retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria and require, or have already undertaken, a course of treatment to change their gender.” The military explored the extensive treatment related to gender transitions such as cross-sex hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery. Since these treatments have not been shown to cure or even reduce the mental health problems associated with gender dysphoria, the Departments were concerned persons with gender dysphoria, even if being “treated,” could not be mentally or physically “ready” to serve.
The medical findings alone show how gender transitions cause insurmountable obstacles to military “readiness”. The Departments cite the Endocrine Society guidelines, where 91.5% of transitioning persons are taking cross-sex hormones, which requires continuous medical monitoring—monitoring that could not take place on deployment or on a mission.
In addition, the recovery time from sex reassignment surgery is 3-6 months (assuming no complications) and requires a strict hormone regime at least a year prior to surgery. In many cases, a transitioning individual could be non-deployable for two to two-and-a-half years! The Departments’ Panel of Experts concluded that this exposes all troops to harm because of a transitioning individual’s inability to perform combat required skills while deployed, in which instance that individual would be sent home. Yet, sending individuals home renders a unit more vulnerable because it now must operate with less manpower. The Department noted “it is imperative that the force be manned with Service members capable of meeting all mission demands. . . including the ability to deploy rapidly, without impediment or encumbrance.”
Privacy and Unfairness
The Departments’ report found many other reasons for not accepting transitioning individuals, such as violations of privacy (e.g. allowing men who self-identify as women into female showers, which raised complaints) and fundamental unfairness in physical requirements and competition. Perceived unfairness affects unit cohesion, good order and discipline. For example, a situation in which a male (who identifies as female) is held to female standards, is unfair not only for biological males who see another male receiving exceptions, but also for biological females who are forced to compete against a male. The report stressed that vigorous physical competition is “central to military life and indispensable to the training and preparation of warriors.”
Finally, the Departments’ report cited the medical costs for serving transitioning Service members is nearly 300% percent the medical costs of an individual without these concerns. The military expects the costs to rise as more and more members request medical support for their transitions and noted 77% of transitioning individuals in the military have requested transition-related surgery.
The Departments’ Conclusion
The Departments concluded “the clear sex-differentiated lines with respect to physical fitness; berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities; and uniform and grooming standards, which have served all branches of Service well to date, risks unnecessarily adding to the challenges faced by leaders at all levels” and fundamentally interfering with the mission of the Armed Forces. Therefore, the findings recommended those individuals who are transitioning or will want to transition should not be eligible to serve in the Armed Forces.
The Trump Administration Memo
In light of these extensive findings, the Trump Administration issued a new memo on March 23rd that allows the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland security to implement any appropriate policies that support their findings. These policies would allow individuals who have already transitioned to remain in the military, only under certain conditions, such as having been admitted into the military under the Obama directive. Yet, unlike the former Obama directive, it does not require the military to accept new recruits who are transitioning genders or have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
Why This Matters
The reason this is important for all Americans is because the military defends our nation. We have the right to expect a certain level of physical and psychological health from all military members. It is not discrimination to deny entrance into the military because of medical standards that apply to everyone based upon their biological sex. The military must be free to maintain its stringent entrance requirements because that is how it best protects our nation. The Department of Defense wrote 71% of Americans are disqualified from service and “transgender persons with gender dysphoria are no less valued members of our Nation than all other categories of persons who are disqualified from military service.”