April 30, 2018

Expert Report Refutes Pentagon Rationale for Transgender Ban

Citing Palm Study, New York Times Lead Editorial Warns of “A Growing Problem for the Military Transgender Ban – Facts”

San Francisco, CA – As reported in a New York Times editorial this morning, a panel of retired military Surgeons General and Palm Center scholars has released a report refuting the Pentagon’s rationale for reinstating ​the​ ban on transgender military service. The 55-page report finds that the Defense Department made “a series of erroneous assertions and mischaracterizations about the scientific research” on the health and fitness of transgender people, conducting a “selective review of the evidence” and “distorting the findings of the research it cites.”

Reinstating the​ ban, say the co-authors, would create a double standard for transgender service members by applying rules to them that do not apply to other troops. The critique also states that the military has “no evidence” that allowing transgender service has compromised unit cohesion, and notes that the Service Chiefs have stated the opposite: they have heard “precisely zero reports of issues of cohesion, discipline, morale,” and related concerns after two years of inclusive service.

The Pentagon’s “case for reinstating the transgender ban,” the expert panel concludes, “is contradicted by ample evidence clearly demonstrating that transition-related care is effective, that transgender personnel diagnosed with gender dysphoria are deployable and medically fit, that inclusive policy has not compromised cohesion and instead promotes readiness, and that the financial costs of inclusion are not high.”

“I can’t think of another example in the entirety of U.S. military history where a group of service members who were deemed fit and deployable and had been successfully performing the mission were precipitously deemed unfit and thrown out,” said Aaron Belkin, Palm Center Director and a co-author of today’s report. “It’s unprecedented.” 

The ban, which bars most transgender individuals from serving or accessing full health care, is not yet policy because four federal courts have blocked it during litigation. Last year, President Trump announced the ban on Twitter and ordered Defense Secretary James Mattis to create a plan for implementing it. Sec. Mattis formed a study group that issued the Pentagon’s implementation​ report, released last month.

To read the executive summary or full text of today’s report co-authored by retired Surgeons General and Palm Center Scholars, click here.