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U.S. Military Transgender Policy

cupper

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Military to allow transgender members to serve openly

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pentagon-to-allow-transgender-members-to-serve-openly/2015/07/13/fe9b054a-298d-11e5-a5ea-cf74396e59ec_story.html?hpid=z1

The Pentagon announced Monday that it will allow transgender members of the military to serve openly starting next year, marking an end to a long-standing policy that barred them from the armed forces.

In an echo of the Defense Department’s repeal of the ban on gays in uniform four years ago, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said he had directed the armed forces to devise new rules over the next six months that would allow transgender troops to serve, except in situations “where objective, practical impediments are identified.”

“We must ensure that everyone who’s able and willing to serve has the full and equal opportunity to do so, and we must treat all our people with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Carter said in a statement. He called the military’s current regulations “outdated” and said they were “causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions.”

Carter also issued a directive that would make it more difficult to discharge transgender personnel over the next six months while the new rules are being established, requiring all such cases to be reviewed by a senior Pentagon official. The Pentagon took a similar interim approach to freeze the discharges of gay troops while it was preparing to lift that ban five years ago.

An estimated 15,500 transgender people serve in the military, but they have been forced to conceal that identity, according to the Williams Institute, a center at the University of California at Los Angeles that studies the gay and transgender populations. Some have found themselves in a precarious position — open to sympathetic peers and superiors but at risk of being discharged if someone who disapproves finds out.

Over the years, military officials have said the ban was necessary to protect troops in “austere environments” where they may not have easy access to medical care. Supporters of the ban have also suggested that transgender people may have mental deficiencies and be at ri sk of suicide.

But pressure has mounted on the military and the Obama administration in recent years as societal views of transgender people have changed, and since the relatively smooth transition after the 2011 lifting of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that barred gays from openly serving.

Gay rights groups praised the decision, which they said was long overdue. They noted that several other countries, including Israel, Canada, Britain and Australia, have successfully incorporated transgender members in their ranks and predicted that a policy change in the United States would be relatively simple.

“It shouldn’t be complicated,” said Allyson Robinson, an Army veteran and director of policy for SPARTA, a group that advocates for transgender troops. In these countries, transgender troops “have served openly for some time, and they’ve already proven that questions about ability or physical capabilities aren’t rooted in practicalities, they are rooted in ignorance and bias.”

The review will include a look at the impact on troops serving in close quarters and how a change in policy might play out in combat zones. At the moment, the Defense Department is also grappling with more general questions about the extent to which women can serve in direct combat roles — an issue that could be complicated by adding transgender members to the mix.

Some in Congress said they want to ensure that the Pentagon carefully considers over the next six months whether there are certain missions or assignments in war zones where allowing transgender troops to serve might be problematic.

“It has to be an honest review,” said a congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “It just can’t be ‘We took a look and there will be no challenges with this.’ ”

The decision drew immediate rebukes from groups that said it was evidence of military leaders’ misplaced priorities.

“It’s time that we allow the military to focus on its only job — defending our country against its enemies,” Jerry Boy­kin, a retired Army lieutenant general and executive vice president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement.


But Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, welcomed the change and its stated presumption that allowing transgender troops to serve would not harm the effectiveness of military units. “It is long past time that we definitively and affirmatively make it clear that gender identity should have no bearing on an individual’s ability to serve,” he said.

The military banned service members with gender issues as early as the 1960s, said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a gay rights group. By the 1980s, he said, the military was applying its medical regulations more forcefully against people who identified as transgender.

Gay rights groups have aggressively pushed back in recent years, pointing to studies and reports that show open transgender service would not be harmful. Among them was a report last year co-authored by former U.S. surgeon general Joycelyn Elders. “There is no compelling medical reason for the ban,” the report concluded.

In recent months, there were signs that the military was changing course on the issue, with the Army, Navy and Air Force adjusting their policies to make it more difficult to discharge transgender members. Shortly after Carter was sworn in as defense secretary this year, he suggested at a town hall meeting with troops in Afghanistan that he was “open-minded” about transgender service.

In addition, last month, a senior airman attended the White House’s gay pride celebration in the uniform of his preferred gender, which is a departure from current Air Force policy, groups said.

The policy change announced Monday, which was first reported by the Associated Press, comes two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

Army Capt. Jacob Eleazer, who joined as a woman and now identifies as a man, greeted the news Monday with relief. For years he has gone back and forth with leadership over his gender identity, at times fearing he would be dismissed. Most recently, he said, he was admonished for allowing officer candidates to address him as “sir.”

He said he hopes the decision announced Monday will end the standoff and allow him to serve in the military longer than he expected.

“Basically, it means I’m going to have an opportunity to have a career I never thought I would,” he said. “This is really good news.”
- mod edit of thread title to make it more general, given the latest developments -
 

tomahawk6

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I don't favor this at all.I would bet this initiative only lasts until the next President.
 

dimsum

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tomahawk6 said:
I don't favor this at all.I would bet this initiative only lasts until the next President.

Why, and why?
 

Marchog

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I'm going to get blasted for this- but if someone has mental issues (which is what this is), I would question the wisdom of having that individual in a military.

This is feel-good political posturing, not pragmatism.
 

Blackadder1916

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Marchog said:
I'm going to get blasted for this- but if someone has mental issues (which is what this is), I would question the wisdom of having that individual in a military.

This is feel-good political posturing, not pragmatism.

Well, the American Psychiatric Association seems to disagree with you.

http://www.dsm5.org/documents/gender%20dysphoria%20fact%20sheet.pdf
DSM-5 aims to avoid stigma and ensure clinical care for individuals who see and feel themselves to be a different gender than their assigned gender. It replaces the diagnostic name “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria,” as well as makes other important clarifications in the criteria. It is important to note that gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition.
 

Pusser

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We did it.  No big deal.  Time to move on and concentrate on real problems.
 
J

jollyjacktar

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Although we did it and have moved on, there still is some resentment in the trenches that one medical proceedure is funded while others (lazer eye surgery for one) are not. 
 

PMedMoe

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jollyjacktar said:
Although we did it and have moved on, there still is some resentment in the trenches that one medical proceedure is funded while others (lazer eye surgery for one) are not.

On a case by case basis.  They used what was covered by Provincial health, so tell people to take their beef up with them.

Marchog said:
I'm going to get blasted for this- but if someone has mental issues (which is what this is), I would question the wisdom of having that individual in a military.

And you went to medical school when?
 

Pusser

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jollyjacktar said:
Although we did it and have moved on, there still is some resentment in the trenches that one medical proceedure is funded while others (lazer eye surgery for one) are not.

The Surgeon General addressed this quite some time ago.  It boils down to this - the CF treats all medical "conditions" based on the prevailing generally accepted treatment as determined by the medical community.  The generally accepted treatment for myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, astigmatism, etc, is the prescribing of corrective lenses (eyeglasses - not even contacts).  The generally accepted treatment for gender dysphoria is gender reassignment surgery.  There is an element of society that thinks you can treat cancer with herbal tea.  Be thankful the CF doesn't subscribe to that!

PS:  I have saved the Department thousands of dollars in prescription eyewear over the years, far more than the cost of my laser eye surgery, but I've gotten over it.
 
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jollyjacktar

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Personally I have no problem with people who require gender reassignment getting what they need from whatever source.  I'm not even bitter about corrective eye surgery not being covered.  I am, however, a little miffed at the system really getting cheap about eyeglasses.  I do hope they don't have the surgery folks getting things done by the lowest bidder... or out of pocket to cover the shortfalls.
 
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jollyjacktar said:
Personally I have no problem with people who require gender reassignment getting what they need from whatever source.

They have it hard enough as it is that I generally agree. The only problem I have with it though is that it should have been brought up during enrollment and discussed with the medical staff and then the Military can make the decision whether they are mentally fit enough to join. By the time you are old enough to enroll one should generally know whether they have gender identity issues or not.


 

Marchog

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Blackadder1916 said:
Well, the American Psychiatric Association seems to disagree with you.

http://www.dsm5.org/documents/gender%20dysphoria%20fact%20sheet.pdf
The American Psychiatric Association is a joke- they caved to political pressure from interest groups in the same way the US military just did. I have no confidence at all in their position on the matter. This is the same group that tried to pull this on the sly: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/dsm-pedophilia-mental-disorder-paraphilia_n_4184878.html, then backtracked/"clarified" when they got caught.

In addition, if you want to find a demographic with a sky-high suicide and depression rate, look no further. Being, essentially, a solipsist at war with reality tends not to be good for your mental health.

And you went to medical school when?
I went to capital-R Realist philosophy school, in which reality does not conform to whatever your mind says it does.
 

CountDC

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Medically fit
Dentally fit
Physically fit
Mentally fit
Gender fit

PRIOR to enrolment. 

Getting enroled and then demanding the military to pay for surgery you already knew you needed or wanted is not ok.  I have known people that had to see a dentist for work before they could enrol so it should be the same - have your surgery then come back when fit.

Does public health care cover?  I thought it was classified as elective surgery and self paid?  Our health care should cover as much as possible what is available to the general publice (ignoring the individual local items that are only applicale in one province.)
 

Strike

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CountDC said:
Medically fit
Dentally fit
Physically fit
Mentally fit
Gender fit

PRIOR to enrolment. 

Getting enroled and then demanding the military to pay for surgery you already knew you needed or wanted is not ok.  I have known people that had to see a dentist for work before they could enrol so it should be the same - have your surgery then come back when fit.

That, right there.
 

Underway

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RelentlessTsunami said:
They have it hard enough as it is that I generally agree. The only problem I have with it though is that it should have been brought up during enrollment and discussed with the medical staff and then the Military can make the decision whether they are mentally fit enough to join. By the time you are old enough to enroll one should generally know whether they have gender identity issues or not.

You would think that, but considering you can enroll at 16 that might not be the case.  Some people don't "know" what is wrong just that something is, or maybe its an epiphany type issue, or perhaps a denial/social pressure, or perhaps a religious/culture thing.  Your mileage may vary.  I still haven't achieved enlightenment and I've been working on if for 20 years, and thats a choice, no genetic issues there.

And how is your sexuality a "mental issue" that would preculde you from being fighting fit.  The two are mutually exclusive.  If you can wear the uniform and do your job to the minimum standard then welcome.  Better than those who are confident in their sexuality and incapable of doing anything better than being a paperweight with a pension. 

Not to mention we hire all sorts of people with "issues" all the time, and give them plenty of others in the course of their career.  Without a lot of money and even more time in recruiting there are limited ways to screen.  I say welcome to the club!
 

tomahawk6

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You cannot enlist in the US military until age 17 and that with parental permission.While I dont like this new policy I wonder how many would enlist and stay until retirement ? probably not many.Transgender/gay personnel cannot give blood.For that matter diabetics cant either.
 

Strike

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tomahawk6 said:
You cannot enlist in the US military until age 17 and that with parental permission.While I dont like this new policy I wonder how many would enlist and stay until retirement ? probably not many.Transgender/gay personnel cannot give blood.For that matter diabetics cant either.

Neither can you give blood if you've recently gotten a tattoo, visited certain countries within a certain timeline, or recently changed sexual partners.  That argument is a red herring, especially considering many countries DO allow homosexuals et al. to donate blood.
 

PMedMoe

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Looks like there's a shit-load of reasons that people cannot donate blood:  American Red Cross.  FYI, diabetics who are well controlled on insulin or oral medications are eligible to donate.  I didn't see "gay" or "transgendered" on the list.

That being said, what the hell does the eligibility to donate blood have to do with service in the military??  ???
 
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