Tax­pay­ers’ $1m bill for sol­dier sex change ops

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - JOE KELLY

The De­fence Force has charged tax­pay­ers more than $1 mil­lion to pay for sex-change surg­eries and pro­vide treat­ment for per­son­nel ex­pe­ri­enc­ing gen­der dys­pho­ria.

Free­dom of Information doc­u­ments re­leased this week by the ADF re­vealed that from Novem­ber 2012 to last March, there were 27 ADF mem­bers who re­ceived treat­ment for gen­der dys­pho­ria.

Seven­teen ADF mem­bers had sex-change surgery — 10 be­ing male-to-fe­male re­as­sign­ments — with the to­tal cost amount­ing to $1,052,330, not in­clud­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals dis­pensed by the De­fence Force.

In­ter­nal De­fence ad­vice from July also con­firmed there is no ex­ist­ing pol­icy on the man­age­ment of trans­gen­der ADF mem­bers “aside from med­i­cal pol­icy”.

“This is be­cause trans­gen­der and tran­si­tion­ing mem­bers are ad­min­is­tra­tively treated as their af­firmed gen­der of male or fe­male,” the ad­vice said.

“Any ADF can­di­date with gen­der dys­pho­ria is as­sessed by De­fence Force Re­cruit­ing on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis, against the in­her­ent re­quire­ments of ser­vice and in ac­cor­dance with the

De­fence Health man­ual.” The ad­vice also re­vealed that a pre­vi­ous pol­icy on trans­gen­der per­son­nel had been can­celled in June 2010 be­cause it gave “in­ap­pro­pri­ate dis­cre­tionary power” to com­mand­ing of­fi­cers to con­sider discharge where “be­hav­iour in iden­ti­fy­ing as the op­po­site gen­der ... could have se­ri­ous con­se­quences upon op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness, co­he­sion, morale and dis­ci­pline”.

One of the key is­sues de­tailed in the doc­u­ments is that trans­gen­der mem­bers are likely to be non-de­ploy­able for some time — the length of which will vary in each case in­clud­ing for psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­selling.

A doc­u­ment ti­tled “Navy Com­ments, Trans­gen­der” from last Jan­uary, also cov­ered sev­eral key chal­lenges posed by trans­gen­der per­son­nel, in­clud­ing the use of key fa­cil­i­ties such as toi­lets and bath­rooms.

It noted that those un­der­go­ing gen­der tran­si­tion­ing would “not be posted to ships”. While this meant “mess­ing is­sues are not a prob­lem at sea”, the doc­u­ment warned that “re­turn­ing to sea post-tran­si­tion (es­pe­cially if the mem­ber does not un­dergo sur­gi­cal re­as­sign­ment) presents a range of chal­lenges for the in­di­vid­ual and the or­gan­i­sa­tion”.

“A tran­si­tion­ing per­son may choose to use sep­a­rate fa­cil­i­ties such as an ac­ces­si­ble toi­let for dis­abled peo­ple,’’ the navy doc­u­ment says.

“How­ever, it will be dis­crim­i­na­tory to in­sist that the tran­si­tion­ing per­son per­ma­nently use fa­cil­i­ties for the dis­abled.

“Should the sit­u­a­tion arise where open com­mu­nal same­sex show­ers are the only show­ers avail­able ... the tran­si­tion­ing per­son and their com­man­der or man­ager should dis­cuss and agree upon an ap­pro­pri­ate ar­range­ment.”

Last month De­fence con­firmed gen­der-neu­tral per­son­nel could face re­stric­tions from key roles un­der moves to ob­tain spe­cial ex­emp­tions from sex dis­crim­i­na­tion laws.

De­fence re­vealed it was con­sid­er­ing re­in­stat­ing an ex­emp­tion to the Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act after The Aus­tralian re­vealed an Aus­tralian De­fence Force Academy cadet had claimed gen­der neu­tral­ity — also iden­ti­fied as gen­der X sta­tus — which un­der na­tional guide­lines refers to a per­son who is of a “non­bi­nary gen­der”.

Bernard Gaynor, an Iraq War vet­eran sacked from the Army Re­serves for crit­i­cis­ing gen­der and sex­u­al­ity di­ver­sity poli­cies, said yes­ter­day the doc­u­ments high­lighted the “sheer scale of bu­reau­cratic Twis­ter play­ing out in­side De­fence over rain­bow in­clu­sion”.

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