In a historic move, on Thursday, June 30, 2016, the Obama administration lifted a longstanding ban on so-called transgenders serving in the U.S. military, effective immediately.

The administration lifted its ban despite the fact that psychiatrists like Joseph Berger, M.D. and Johns Hopkins University’s Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry Paul McHugh, M.D., as well as the American College of Pediatricians, say that transgenderism — the Left’s political fad de jure — has no basis in biology. Instead, like anorexics, those who imagine themselves to be transgenders are laboring under a psychological disorder called body dysmorphia — a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in one’s body and physical appearance.

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Andrew Tilghman reports for Military Times, June 30, 2016, that transgender troops will no longer be considered “medically unfit” for military service. By October, transgenders may begin an official process to change gender in the military personnel management systems.

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In lifting its ban, the Pentagon also outlined how the military will allow — and pay for — service members to transition, medically and officially, from one gender to another, in cases where a military medical doctor determines that is necessary.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the new policy after a year of contentious debate inside the Pentagon as some senior military leaders questioned the impact on readiness. But Carter firmly rejected those readiness concerns and insisted that, on the contrary, the change will ultimately improve the quality of the force. He said at a Pentagon press briefing:

“The policies we’re issuing today will allow us to access talent of transgender service members to strengthen accomplishment of our mission. We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.”

Many details remain unclear. Senior military leaders will have 90 days to draw up a detailed implementation plan that will address issues that include:

  • How the military health system will provide care to transgender troops, to include medical support for gender transitions.
  • When a transgender service member will begin adhering to a different gender’s grooming standards and uniform-wear rules.
  • How and when a transgender service member will transition to new physical fitness standards.
  • When a commander should consider moving transgender soldiers into alternative barracks or berthing quarters.
  • How unit-level commanders should address a range of issues related to deployments, job assignments and training that may arise among troops undergoing gender transition.
  • How troops can undergo the bureaucratic process for changing their gender marker in the official Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, known as DEERS.

The new policy sets a deadline of one year, or July 2017, for the military to begin allowing transgender recruits to enlist or be commissioned into the officer corps. By early 2017, the services will begin conducting forcewide training about transgender service members for commanders, military doctors, recruiters and the rank-and-file force.

Prospective recruits who have undergone medical treatment associated with gender transition such as “gender reassignment surgery” (which does no such thing because no amount of surgery can change a person’s sex chromosomes that determine gender) or hormone therapy will require a doctor’s approval to certify they have been stable in their preferred gender for at least 18 months.

Since many transgender individuals choose not to seek gender reassignment surgery, the Pentagon has no requirement that official gender and physical genitalia match for troops or recruits.

Defense officials estimate there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgenders (or 0.2% to 0.5%) in today’s active-duty force of 1.3 million people.

Carter said, “Although relatively few in number, we’re talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction. We invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to train and develop each individual, and we want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we’ve invested in and who have proven themselves. The reality is that we have transgender service members serving in uniform today, and I have a responsibility to them and their commanders to provide them both with clearer and more consistent guidance than is provided by current policies.”

Pointing to a recent study of Rand Corporation, Carter said the costs of the new policy would be minimal: there will be “minimal readiness impacts” and the health care costs would amount to “an exceedingly small proportion” of the overall military health care expenditures.

Treating treat gender dysphoria like any other medical condition, defense official say the overall the cost of providing health care to treat gender dysphoria will probably run between $40,000 and $50,000 over the lifetime of an individual service member.

Speaking about the Pentagon’s internal deliberations, a senior defense official who asked not to be identified said that the cost of treating a transgender must be weighed against the costs of training individual service members, which often run upward of $200,000 depending on the career field. He said, “Losing the benefit of that hundreds of thousands of dollars in training, for the savings of $40,000 to $50,000 in lifetime cost, it doesn’t seem like a very good trade off to us.”

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When questions arise about what is really a medical necessity, defense officials say that military doctors will be explicitly instructed to follow the standard practice in the civilian medical community, consisting of:

  • Hormone therapy, the most common treatment for gender dysphoria.
  • “Breast implants may be medically necessary” for some individuals, said another defense official.
  • Cosmetic surgery, e.g., facial feminization surgery, would in most cases be considered an elective procedure and not be covered by the military health system.
  • “Bottom” surgery to “change” genitalia: The defense official familiar with the medical aspects of the issue said that many transgender individuals do not opt for a full sex-change operation: “Particularly for female-to-male transgender people, they often times do not desire or medically need bottom surgery, so they may be stable and their medical needs are met by counseling.”

The Pentagon conducted no surveys to gauge the opinions of the rank-and-file force on this politically sensitive issue. Instead, the unnamed defense official said that Carter “determined . . . that this was medical treatment and a medical issue and you’re not going to defer to the force as to whether or not we’re going to provide treatment.”

Below is a sample of Military Times readers’ comments:

Matthew Thomas: “What a disgrace. This country and leadership makes me sick. The senior generals are even worse because they don’t appear to put up a fight about any of this politically corrects BS.

M Roberto DeLeon: “Utter madness. Allowing these severely mentailly ill people to serve is perposterous. This is why you don’t vote for liberals.

Joe Schmuccatelli: “Obama & Carter are idiots or saboteurs. They have turned the US Armed Forces into another one of their failed social programs. They are only concerned with social justice and they don’t give whit about national security beyond destroying it.

Hayy Karry: “Unbelievable. The VA is totally messed up, funds are lacking for the Military and this piece of shit President and Defense Secretary put this trash ahead of everything. Once these fools are out of office everything needs to return to normal! Get these mentally ill people OUT OF OUR MILITARY!!!

Leon Congleton: “Let me get this straight, the military is going to pay for their freakin transition from one gender to another and I can’t get dental implants from the VA so I can chew f#cking food. Are you f#cking kidding me!?

Melissa Lee: “I can’t even get decent care from the VA and we are giving people sex changes, what the fuck is wrong with these people. How about we take people who are overweight and give them bi pass surgery, when does this madness end? I do not believe that we should have selected service anymore. I feel embarrassed to say that I was in the Army, I don’t want any of my children to follow in my footsteps, not now or ever again.

Ryan Arthur: “I can’t get the treatment or approval I need for my back injury I suffered on my 10th deployment but it’s ok to absorb the costs of HRT and SRS for Transgender members? Where is the irony in that?

Michael J. West: “So we can afford to pay for a sex change operation… But they won’t pay for my machine gunners to have working weapons? I cant wait for Russia to take over.

See also:

~Eowyn

Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds