Five transgender U.S. service members testified before Congress last week, arguing that their transgender identity does not get in the way of their service to the U.S. military.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who recently introduced a bipartisan bill in the House that would force the military to accept transgender troops, called a Defense Department proposal “discriminatory, unconstitutional, and self-defeating.” Under the proposed policy, announced in March 2018 by then–Defense Secretary James Mattis but currently blocked by lawsuits, transgender troops would be allowed to join the military if they serve as their biological sex and have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Transgender troops already enlisted could continue to serve.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, director of The Heritage Foundation Center for National Defense, wrote that clinical and survey data show people with gender dysphoria attempt suicide at rates between eight and 10 times higher than the average of other individuals. He argued the military must set entrance criteria based on evidence—which overwhelmingly suggest individuals with gender dysphoria would present unacceptable risks to prospective military units and to themselves—not isolated examples of transgender individuals who have successfully served and been rewarded for their bravery, like those who testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel last week.
“Thus far, the courts have seen fit to substitute their judgment on military enlistment criteria in place of that of the commander in chief,” wrote Spoehr. “That’s unfortunate. What would be even more unfortunate is if a decision were made to permit individuals with gender dysphoria to serve in the military, and in so doing, took a reckless gamble with both the readiness of the U.S. military and the safety of those patriotic individuals.” —K.C.