WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Almost a year after the policy was unveiled, the Pentagon on Tuesday instituted the Trump administration’s new guidelines barring gender-confused individuals from military service.
Finalized late last March in consultation with former Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the policy disqualifies from service “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria,” specifically those who “may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery,” except in “certain limited circumstances.”
The White House said at the time that “extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans,” informed Mattis’ recommendation, which was that troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria presented “considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”
Opponents immediately sued, leading four separate courts to issue temporary injunctions against enforcing the ban. In January, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an injunction by District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, followed by the U.S. Supreme Court staying two others. U.S. District Judge George Russell III ruled last week that he was “bound by the Supreme Court’s decision” to lift the final injunction.
With the courts giving the administration a green light, deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist officially signed the policy Tuesday for implementation on April 12, ABC News reports.
According to the Pentagon’s latest memo on the subject, the armed forces will no longer accept new recruits diagnosed with gender dysphoria or recruits who’ve had hormone treatment or reassignment surgery.
Already-serving members (who have been estimated to total anywhere from 1,320 to 6,630) may stay, but will be treated as members of their biological sex rather than their “gender identity,” and held to the dress and grooming standards of the former. Current medical treatment will continue for current members already diagnosed with gender dysphoria, but new transition procedures will not be offered.
“Waivers will be allowed on a case-by-case basis but only from the secretaries in charge of the military services,” ABC notes.
LGBT activists have bitterly denounced the policy. The Washington Blade quotes National Center for Transgender Equality policy director Harper Jean Tobin as bemoaning a “looming purge” and “unprecedented step backward in the social and civil progress of our country and our military.”
“Throughout our nation’s history, we have seen arbitrary barriers in our military replaced with inclusion and equal standards,” Tobin said. “This is the first time in American history such a step forward has been reversed, and it is a severe blow to the military and to the nation’s values.”
Conservatives disagree, however.
“Anyone who wants to serve their nation is worthy of our nation’s thanks, because not enough do,” Heritage Foundation defense expert and retired Lieutenant General Tom Spoehr writes. “A mere desire to serve, however, does not equal qualification.”
He notes that “exhaustive Defense Department clinical and U.S. survey data confirms that individuals with gender dysphoria attempt suicide at rates between eight and 10 times the average” and “severe anxiety again at between eight and nine times the rate of individuals without,” and that “there is no evidence that medical treatment, including gender-reassignment surgery, can remedy those challenges.”
“Stress, anxiety, and suicide are already existential military problems. Indeed, the suicide rate for active-duty military members has been slowly rising over the past couple of decades,” Spoehr explains. “It would, therefore, be reckless and ill-advised to allow individuals demonstrably at a higher risk of suicide and anxiety to join the military and be subject to the increased stresses of military duty—both for the readiness of their units and for the safety of the individual.”
The Trump policy is a reversal from the Obama administration opening the military to “transgender” recruits in June 2016. A memo from Mattis explained last year that the Obama administration justified the change by citing a RAND National Defense Research Institute study with “significant shortcomings.”
The RAND study, Mattis concluded, “referred to limited and heavily caveated data to support its conclusions, glossed over the impacts of healthcare costs, readiness, and unit cohesion, and erroneously relied on the selective experiences of foreign militaries with different operational requirements than our own.”