With implementation of the Trump administration’s transgender military ban looking, representatives of the American Psychiatric Association and military policy researchers at The Palm Center were expressing concerns about the ban’s impact on individual servicemembers and the military over all.
The ban is set to take effect on Friday, April 12, and at that time, most transgender service members will be required to follow the standards of their biological sex or be removed from service.
Previous Department of Defense policy, established under the Obama administration, allowed transgender service members to seek treatment. The APA pointed out in a press release issued today (Tuesday, April 9) “DoD intends to discriminate against those who did.”
The statement continued: “As physicians providing treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders, we affirm that being transgender or gender diverse implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability or ability to serve in the military. We urge the administration to eliminate this policy and, instead, work with our organization to ensure policy decisions are informed by medical evidence.”
APA President Altha Stewart, M.D., added, “The APA has long fought against discrimination against any patient population. This ban perpetuates discrimination and stigma against transgender people. Furthermore, this ban harms the military by depriving the service branches of willing and capable members.”
Researchers with The Palm Center, “an independent research institute committed to sponsoring state-of-the-art scholarship to enhance the quality of public dialogue about critical and controversial issues of the day,” warned that reinstating the ban means that “politics is trumping both military readiness and equal treatment of service members.”
Palm Center officials have released a new memo explaining that the administration’s policy is, indeed, a transgender ban, because, “Only a small fraction of the thousands of transgender troops is protected by a ‘grandfather’ clause, while the vast majority are subject to discharge if a need to transition, or a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, becomes known. Even the grandfather clause is provisional, as the Pentagon has stated it may be revoked.”
Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin said, “Fully 100 percent of transgender troops are threatened and stigmatized by this ban. The Pentagon has breached the trust of our servicemembers and our country, relying on deceptive claims that its policy is not actually a ban and that it is needed to preserve readiness. In reality, as senior military leaders have said, this ban will harm readiness.”
Belkin said that as far as experts are concerned, Trump’s transgender policy is basically a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for transgender troops.
The Palm Center’s new policy memo, “The Making of a Ban: How DTM-19-004 Works to Push Transgender People Out of Military Service,” reads, in part: “When DoD disqualifies all applicants with a history of gender dysphoria (unless they renounce transgender identity for years) and all applicants who have ever received treatment for gender dysphoria, that is a ban.
“When DoD tells non-grandfathered transgender personnel — about 8,000 people now, according to DoD’s own estimate, not even counting those in the future — that coming forward can lead to separation, that is a ban,” the memo continues. “DTM-19-004 depends on directly banning the transgender people who are immediately identifiable and threatening the rest, forcing them to remain silent and invisible. It is ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ all over again.”
The Palm Center also points out that all five service chiefs have told Congress they experienced no problems with unit cohesion during the first two years of open transgender service, and senior and retired medical and military figures, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, have said inclusive service promotes readiness.
Additionaly, two recent polls, by Quinnipiac and Dalia Research, found that 70 percent of respondents favor allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military.