Pentagon to announce end of military’s transgender ban
Transgenderism | While not unexpected, the policy change still leaves many questions unanswered
by Michael Cochrane
Posted 6/27/16, 11:17 am
The Pentagon will announce the repeal of its ban on openly serving transgender military personnel on July 1, according to USA Today, which first reported the story Friday afternoon. According to the newspaper, the Pentagon is finalizing details of the plan and Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work could approve it as early as Wednesday. Final approval by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and an official announcement is expected Friday.
The plan would give each branch of the military one year to implement specific policies on recruiting, housing, and uniforms for transgender troops, according to the report.
LGBT activists cheered the impending announcement, claiming the ban on transgender service members is essentially the last remaining vestige of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 1993 law that prevented homosexuals in the military from serving openly. Congress repealed the act in 2010.
“This decision is a great victory for the many trans people who have served and sacrificed in the military over the years,” said Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán, director of the Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project, National LGBTQ Task Force, in a statement. “They also served in fear of being discharged from the service for simply being who they are. Thankfully this now will change. We look forward to hearing more implementation details.”
But some military readiness advocates worry the Obama administration is using the military to gradually impose its social agenda. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, noted the administration promised the repeal of DADT would not lead to lifting the ban on transgendered service members.
“This is one of many promises that were made and broken by the administration,” she said.
Donnelly is concerned about the consequences of treating transgenderism as a civil rights issue rather than one of several medical and psychological conditions military regulations currently cite as grounds for ineligibility to serve—a list that includes eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.
“If you have someone who believes … in their mind that they are too heavy, even though everyone can see they’re too thin, you don’t look at that person and say, well let’s make that normal, let’s make that a civil rights condition,” Donnelly told me. “You try to help that person.”
Carter indicated last year his intention to lift the ban on transgender service members. But responding to concerns from some members of Congress, Carter commissioned the RAND Corporation to study whether lifting the ban would have an “adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness.”
The results of the study—which has not been officially released—suggested there would be “few difficulties posed by policies allowing for open service by transgender individuals,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The study, which focused primarily on costs and impacts to military deployments, found an estimated 30-140 new hormone treatments and 25-130 surgeries a year would have a negligible effect on readiness.
But questions about how the Pentagon will address medical treatment for transgender individuals remain unanswered. In addition to the expense of gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments, Donnelly notes some military doctors and nurses might have ethical problems with such treatments.
“Will they be ordered to participate in the kind of medical therapy to advance or retain transgenderism against their own ethical standards?” she asked. “If so, when push comes to shove, what will prevail? If transgenderism is considered a civil right and people who claim to be transgender are a special interest group, obviously you’re going to create conflicts that could, indeed, force many medical personnel to decide not to stay in the military or not to join.”
Donnelly also noted the privacy concerns relating to gender identity currently roiling the civilian world could be even more of a problem in the military, where privacy already is at a premium. A service member who feels uncomfortable in a private space with someone claiming to be transgender would have no recourse.
“It’s really unfortunate, because in the military we ask them to do so much,” Donnelly told me, noting military members under orders are generally powerless to resist the imposition of social change. “We ask them to give up a lot of personal freedoms and rights that we enjoy as civilians to impose the T part of the LGBT agenda on men and women who serve in conditions unlike the civilian world. It really is unfair.”
Michael is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.