Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Pentagon Recycles Discredited Rationales for Trans Ban

Military experts today questioned why the Pentagon is reiterating defenses of the transgender service ban that were discredited by the American Psychiatric Association and further undermined in a recent report co-authored by former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.

A story in the Washington Post this weekend focused on the ousting of a highly regarded transgender sailor. In the article, a Pentagon spokeswoman indicated that the military has no plans to lift its ban even though the psychiatric community has reversed its determination that gender nonconformity is a mental disorder. Explaining the Pentagon's rationale, she declared that "Service members must serve in austere environments, many of which make necessary and ongoing treatments related to sex reassignment and many other conditions untenable."

A day later, the Pentagon issued a Human Goals Charter that applies to gay, lesbian and bisexual troops but not transgender ones. Asked by a journalist why the document excludes gender identity, a spokesperson said that to "meet the needs of the services," requires "the ability to deploy to and serve in austere environments with limited (and perhaps no) access to medical care for prolonged periods on little or no notice."

Retired RADM Alan M. Steinman, MD, who served as the top medical official in the Coast Guard and co-authored the new report with Dr. Elders, said the Pentagon's rationale is invalid. "There are glaring inconsistencies between the way the military deals with transgender personnel and how they deal with everyone else," he said. "We looked in great detail at the medical risks of deploying transgender troops and found that meeting their health care needs is no more difficult or risky than meeting the medical needs of anyone else."

Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, noted that, "President Obama has the authority to end the ban on transgender service through executive action. "The Pentagon is using old talking points that no longer reflect today's medical consensus. What is unclear is if the Pentagon's outdated rationale and discriminatory policy reflect the views of the President and his administration."

The Elders-Steinman report noted inconsistencies in the treatment of transgender troops, who the Pentagon bars under the guise of requiring burdensome medical treatment even though most do not, at the same time that tens of thousands of non-transgender troops are tolerated despite having extensive medical needs.

SOURCE The Palm Center

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