Editor's note: The following is an opinion piece. The writer is not employed by Military Times and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Military Times or its editorial staff.
Current transgender policies are forcing the armed forces to assume the risks of retaining and recruiting a cohort of persons who are suffering from gender dysphoria, one of several psychological conditions that affect personal military readiness.
Obama Administration mandates ignore biological realities and research, relying instead on LGBT "experts" and like-minded consultants, including those at the Rand Corporation. These ideological sources have produced disingenuous, low-ball estimates of implementation costs, which disregard complicating factors that affect military morale and readiness.
They have failed to consider the demands on commanding officers' time as they manage these complex psychological cases; the turbulence related to privacy violations in close quarters; the impacts on morale and cohesion when treatments reduce deployability; and the cost of lifelong treatments to sustain transgender appearances.
Estimates aside, medical costs are the least of it.
Defense Department directives, instructions, memos, guidebooks, handbooks and toolkits have turned priorities upside down, elevating special interest demands and political correctness above mission readiness.
For example, a Navy "Commanding Officer's Toolkit" recommends a "Personnel Reliability Program" to identify individuals suffering hormone treatment side effects, which might make them ineligible for flight duty or diving operations for six months or more. Another Navy document mentions considering State Department warnings when it comes to deployment of transgender sailors; some of these warnings include advisories that local law may prohibit cross-dressing.
It must be difficult to live life with profound confusion about gender identity. This psychological condition, called gender dysphoria, requires compassion and competent medical treatment. The military health system, however, is designed to serve purposes of national defense.
Properly understood, military medicine is a force multiplier. It should not be considered a venue for controversial hormone treatments and surgeries. Some studies, including a long-term report from distinguished medical scholars at Johns Hopkins University, have found that such transgender treatments do not reduce rates of psychological problems and suicide.
DoD instructions that politicize military medicine force commanders, doctors and nurses to approve, participate in, or perform body-altering procedures that many consider to be contrary to medical ethics or personal convictions. The only way to avoid disobeying orders is to leave the service.
Mandatory, no-dissent training programs relentlessly promote the idea that gender identity is "assigned" at birth and can be altered by changing a person's official "gender marker." Click the bureaucratic box, and voila, a male service member becomes a woman or a woman becomes a man.
Science says gender is identified at birth, not "assigned." A person's true gender markers, known as XX or XY chromosomes, cannot be altered with changes in hair and clothing, hormone treatments, or body-altering surgeries.
Studiously ignoring these facts, an "Implementation Handbook" presents 19 "scenarios," such as what a commander should do if "Marty" announces he is pregnant. Mini-stories convey the message that female personnel living in conditions with minimal privacy should just get used to having biological males in women-only facilities such as showers.
Additional scenarios describe recommended options such as "real life experience," or RLE, which could allow a transgender man to wear a male uniform by day and go out as a woman by night, even at an "off-post unit event."
Transgender activists are demanding the extension of medical treatments to veterans and military dependents, including children, according to a recent Associated Press article. Never mind that winsome young children are not mature enough to give informed consent for often-irreversible hormone treatments.
LGBT activists and Obama Administration holdovers want to preclude congressional oversight or public review of current transgender policies and more yet to come. One Navy official issued a "Diversity & Inclusion Roadmap" three days after the Trump inauguration. And the Defense Department proclaimed June as LGBT Pride Month — a special interest lobbying opportunity — without presidential authorization.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis should replace these holdovers with officials who will reconsider and revoke extreme political correctness in the military. He should also honor confirmation hearing promises to listen to problems brought to him for review.
The Army and Marine Corps have expressed concerns about transgender mandates, and requested delays. Mattis should consider these concerns carefully, and make them public.
We don't need a "mad dog" or a sleeping dog — we need a vigilant and fearless watch dog who will strengthen our military by restoring sound priorities that are long overdue.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elaine Donnelly
Elaine Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military/social issues. More information is available at www.cmrlink.org .