Trans­gen­der is­sue first test of Obama mil­i­tary legacy

Trump’s Pen­tagon chief to give di­rec­tives

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

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.

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