January 4, 2019

Palm Center Response to DC Circuit Ruling on Transgender Military Ban

Reinstating Transgender Ban Would Undermine Military Readiness 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In response to today’s ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals vacating one of four injunctions preventing the Trump Administration from implementing its ban on transgender military service, Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin issued the following statement:

“The Mattis policy that the DC Circuit upheld is a full ban on transgender troops that would have the same impact as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ undermining readiness by forcing troops to live a lie, stigmatizing them, and prompting the discharge of honorably serving personnel.

All five military Chiefs of Staff  have testified that inclusive policy has been a success, with JCS Chairman-designate  Mark Milley reporting ‘precisely zero’ problems.   Retired military Surgeons General —the senior medical officers in their services— issued a 55-page report finding that the Trump/Mattis policy is ‘wholly unpersuasive’ and will harm military readiness. The American Medical Association  and  six former Surgeons General have confirmed that the Mattis policy is based on dishonest medical assertions.

“Whipsaws in military personnel policy are damaging to military readiness. This is particularly true at a moment when recruitment is down, and the nation lacks a Senate-confirmed Defense Secretary. Acting Secretary Shanahan should confirm what the Chiefs have already stated: inclusive policy is a success and transgender service members continue to be a welcome and successful part of the US military.”

Current JCS Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, along with the late Senator John McCain, Senator Joni Ernst, and other lawmakers have said that anyone who can meet the standards should be allowed to serve. The medical reasoning behind the ban has been repudiated by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in addition to three former military Surgeons General, the American Medical Association, and six former US Surgeons General.

Eighteen allied military forces successfully allow transgender service; fifty-six retired Generals and Admiralswarned that a ban will degrade readiness; and the RAND Corporation found that the impact of transgender service on deployability would be “negligible.”

If Trump’s ban is allowed to go into force, the consequences would degrade overall readiness and cohesion, establish gendered rules and expectations that would set a precedent for discriminating against women, and directly harm thousands of Americans who volunteered to serve their country.