Transgender issue first test of Obama military legacy
Trump’s Pentagon chief to give directives
Defense Secretary James Mattis is facing his first significant decision in the military’s sexual revolution legacy left by the last commander in chief, Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton Carter, issued a directive last year permitting transgender troops to remain in the military and undergo sex reassignment procedures instead of facing automatic discharge.
Now, the next step in the transgender agenda is due July 1, according to Mr. Carter’s timeline. Mr. Mattis is to decide whether the armed forces will allow transgender people to join the military.
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, an Obama holdover, required each service to submit plans for how they will open the ranks to transgender recruits. Those road maps are now in, leaving the next move up to Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine Corps four-star general who in the past has complained about the Pentagon’s intense focus on social issues.
Mr. Mattis testified last week before three congressional committees but did not address his plans for transgender troops.
Army Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, a Pentagon spokesman, issued a statement to The Washington Times: “The Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the Military Departments to assess their readiness to access transgender applicants into the military. The assessment is narrowly focused on readiness to access transgender applicants, not on gender transition by currently serving Service members.
“Diversity is a source of strength for the Department of Defense, and is a key to maintaining our high state of readiness. Diversity encompasses more than demographic differences (e.g., race, gender and sexual orientation). We also value diversity of thought, background, language, culture and skills. Readiness and combateffectiveness are our priority.”
Social conservatives have mounted a campaign to convince Mr. Mattis to suspend the Carter transgender directive with the ultimate goal of recalling it and all of the associated manuals.
“The policies adopted require our Armed Forces to officially assume the risks of recruiting and retaining persons who are suffering with a condition requiring long-term medical and perhaps, surgical treatment, with uncertain results often associated with higher rates of depression and suicide,” said a statement from the Conservative Action Project. “The accommodation of such individuals in the military indicates that the U.S. Department of Defense will bear the cost of hormone treatments, surgery, and post-operative care to facilitate ‘gender transitioning.’”
Nearly 100 conservative activists signed the statement headlined, “Restoring America’s Military Strength.” They said the Carter order requires commanders to “master the nuances of a complex psychosexual medical sub-specialty, and initiate or approve procedures for which they have no formal training.”
Signatories included retired Army Lt. General William Boykin, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Elaine Donnelly, who runs the Center for Military Readiness.
Matt Thorn, executive director of Outserve-SLDN, which aids the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender) community, said of the Carter road map: “Everything has been proceeding as planned.”
“Our understand is that all of the policies have been turned in,” Mr. Thorn said. “This is something the services have been working on for months. This is not something they are pulling out of their hat. … We have no indications there are any issues. There are technical things that we know some of the services are working to figure out. There may or may not be a little bit of a delay. In terms of the accessions policy as a whole, it’s been proceeding as planned. We know there is no dissension on ‘We are not going to do this.’”
Of Mr. Mattis, Mr. Thorn said, “He would have to sign off on the final policy or give his permission to it.”
Mr. Carter’s plan for accepting transgender recruits carries a number of stipulations.
For example, a candidate suffering from gender dysphoria may not join unless a medical provider certifies that the applicant “has been stable without clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning for 18 months.”
The applicant also must have completed “medical treatment associated with gender transition” and have been “stable in the preferred gender for 18 months.”
If the candidate has undergone genital reconstruction surgery, a medical provider must certify that “no functional limitations or complications persist.”
Mr. Carter’s directive also laid out policies for allowing current transgender troops to remain and outlined the role of commanders in approving sex reassignment treatments.
President Trump appears to be walking a fine line on LGBT demands. He did not issue a proclamation noting June as LGBT Pride Month. But the Pentagon did encourage celebrations, complete with a new 2017 poster.
The president in February issued a directive that removed the Obama administration’s mandate to local school districts requiring them to let transgender students choose showers and bathrooms associated with their gender identity. Mr. Trump left those decisions up to local authorities.
Mr. Obama opened the military to avowed gays in 2011, and subsequently allowed women to try out for direct ground combat jobs. In 2016 he lifted the transgender ban.