Like most other areas of society, being transgender has affected the US armed forces, and critics say military preparedness has suffered.
Transgender people were banned from serving in the US military for decades until authorities lifted the ban in June 2016. Then-President Donald Trump implemented a new ban in July 2017.
Shortly after President Joe Biden took office, he reversed the Trump administration’s ban on transgender recruits. On March 31, 2021, International Transgender Awareness Day, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby announced at a press briefing, “There is no place for violence and discrimination. based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex expression or characteristics.
He quoted Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who said: “I also think we should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity. We would make ourselves less fit for duty if we exclude from our ranks those who meet our standards and who have the skills and dedication to serve in uniform. It’s the right thing to do.
Other military experts have a different view.
“At the heart of the matter is the question of whether someone who identifies as transgender poses a greater risk or burden than the contribution that person would make,” said the retired Corps Lt. Col. of United States Marines, Dakota Wood, to The Epoch Times. “That is, do the accommodations that must be made by the military system and the potential risks to the force in operational contexts outweigh the relative value of yielding to such a person’s desire to serve? in uniform?”
Wood is a Senior Fellow for Defense Programs at the Heritage Foundation and retired from the US Marine Corps in 2005.
Citing the work of heritage colleague Thomas Spoehr, director of its Center for National Defense and a retired US Army lieutenant general, Wood said statistics show those with gender dysphoria are at increased risk. mental health issues.
“Their medical treatment necessarily consumes resources and time that could be spent elsewhere, which is increasingly important as the military’s medical support capabilities come under increased stress,” he said.
The military are primarily combat units, not welfare agencies, he said. Anyone in need of regular medical care could themselves be at risk if care is interrupted by their military activities.
Additionally, the rest of the combatant’s unit could be “exposed to unnecessary risk similar to the loss of limbs due to any other injuries or wounds.” Except in the case of a transgender serviceman, it would be the result of personal choice rather than an injury inflicted by an enemy or an injury subjected to certain military operations.
The Army gives rigorous physical exams to potential recruits, Wood said. Disqualifying conditions include asthma, severe allergies, very poor dental conditions and physical deformities.
“The desire to serve is not the same as the ability to serve when military effectiveness under the most difficult circumstances is the prevailing requirement,” he said.
“There are many ways to serve the country and its community,” Wood concluded. “There is no de facto ‘right’ to serve in the military.”
Recruitment is also an issue, according to André Van Mol, board-certified family physician, co-chair of the committee on adolescent sexuality at the American College of Pediatricians and co-chair of the task force on sexual and gender identity at the Christian Medical Association. and dental.
“As a former Navy medical officer, I see recruiting and efficiency issues for an army that has been legislated and ordained in an ideology that has little to do with fighting and winning. wars or advancing preparedness and security,” Van Mol told The Epoch Times. .
An army needs cohesion and uniform standards, he said, and controversial gender identity policies undermine that goal.
“It must have equal opportunity and the reward of achievement, rather than the primacy of identity politics,” he said. “And that requires mutual respect, which military women are unlikely to recognize. [when] trans women with male genitalia [are] in their showers and other private spaces. Armed forces that no longer uphold freedom of speech, conscience, religious practice, and medical judgment will fail to recruit from a population that values a First Amendment.
Other sources also reported low recruitment figures. On July 28, Military.com reported that the U.S. military expects a reduction of about 14,000 troops by 2024.
“Recruitment struggles are a conglomeration of issues, including the absence of the military in the minds of young Americans as a job opportunity without a widespread call to arms like the one that followed 9/11,” according to the publication.
Regarding additional medical costs for transgender people, Van Mol said there were not only upfront costs for the military, but also for the Veterans Administration (VA) for surgeries and medical treatment. lifelong hormone therapy.
“There are also costs related to complications from hormones and surgeries, the compromised physical preparation of said service member due to several factors and the reduced availability of doctors, surgeons and mental health specialists already laid off. the test by time. to meet the many needs of trans-identified service members. It is more than costly financially; it compromises military readiness,” he said.