A new report authored by former military officials and LGBTQ researchers has added its name to the growing list of entities debunking President Trump’s trans military ban.
Released by The Palm Center on Wednesday, the extensive 56-page report refutes key findings of a memorandum issued by the Trump administration last month which claimed that allowing trans people to transition would limit their deployability. The March policy said that transgender troops serving “in the Army and Air Force have on average 167 and 159 days of limited duty, respectively, over a one-year period.”
The pro-LGBTQ advocacy group cited internal data from the Department of Defense which contradicts those assertions.
Of 994 active duty troops who were “diagnosed with gender dysphoria” between January 2016 and July 2017, 40 percent of those individuals were deployed in the military’s Middle East operations. The report claims that “exactly one individual deploying with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria was unable to complete the deployment for mental health reasons since policy protecting transgender personnel from arbitrary dismissal was established in June 2016.”
In regards to the claims made in the administration’s updated policy calling for a ban on trans military service, advocates say the data is merely indicative of the double standards to which transgender people are often subjected when determining deployability.
“[S]eparate standards for fitness, targeted specifically against transgender personnel, can make them appear less medically fit and less deployable than their peers,” the report says.
In addition to The Palm Center, the extensively detailed document was co-authored by several authorities. Former government officials included Navy Surgeon General Donald Arthur and Army Surgeon General Gale Pollock, as well as Rear Admiral Alan Steinman, who served as the Coast Guard’s version of a surgeon general prior to retirement.
Of nongovernmental officials, Palm Center Legal Research Director Diane Mazur, Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin, and Cornell University’s Nathaniel Frank advised on the report. In addition to serving as the program director at the college’s What We Know Project, Frank was instrumental in the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy preventing LGBTQ troops from serving openly.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) cited the report while questioning Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Thursday. She added that the administration’s policy banning trans people from service “misrepresents what is the scientific consensus when it comes to gender dysphoria and transition.”
Mattis, however, disagreed with that analysis.
Defense Secretary claimed that a panel of “combat veterans, chiefs of the services, and the undersecretaries” consulted in the creation of the March report. He said they were joined by “commanders of transgender troops,” as well as “civil and military medical experts who have provided care for transgenders, both in the military and outside.”
When asked to name names, Mattis said he could not because the matter is currently being litigated in federal court. He assured he would look into what he “can provide” and disclose when he can “provide it.”
But although it’s rumored that officials like Vice President Mike Pence and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins oversaw the creation of the recent memo, the four heads of each branch of the armed forces were not involved. In fact, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller have come out against the trans military ban.
“I’m concerned about that and want to make sure that they are treated with dignity and respect,” Milley said during Congressional testimony on April 12. “And no, I have received precisely zero reports of issues of cohesion, discipline, morale, and all those sorts of things.”
Neller told Congress exactly a week later that he was “not aware of any issues” surrounding trans enlistment, noting that 27 Marines had come out as transgender with few problems.
Just one day after the Palm Center released its report targeting the White House’s ongoing attempt to remove trans people from servicewhich has been blocked in a series of federal court rulings49 Senators denounced the ban in an open letter to the Mattis. They claimed its implementation would “harm our nation’s military.”
Forty-eight Democrats and one Republican, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, signed onto the letter. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin was the lone Democratic holdout.