SecDef Carter’s Clueless Transgender Announcement Not Based on Scientific Fact

Elaine Donnelly | July 8, 2016 | 2:54pm EDT
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, June 30, 2016, where he announced new rules allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the U.S. military. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently announced that transgender individuals may serve openly in the military.  It was the grand finale for the Obama administration’s final "LGBT Pride Month” in June, but Carter was clearly clueless about the impact of what he had just announced. 

A reporter asked whether the Defense Department would add “gender identity” or “transgender status” to Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) regulations that ban discrimination for other reasons, such as race, creed, or gender.  At first, Carter said he didn’t know, but after prompting he agreed that it would “make sense” to recognize transgenderism as a special class.   

A year ago in June, Secretary Carter announced that “sexual orientation” would be added to MEO non-discrimination categories.  That action disregarded recommendations of a 2010 Defense Department working group that devised a plan to implement repeal of the 1993 law regarding gays in the military.    

It would be unwise, said the working group, to add sexual orientation to categories eligible for various diversity programs, tracking initiatives, and the “equal opportunity” complaint resolution processes. “[This] could produce a sense, rightly or wrongly, that gay men and lesbians are being elevated to a ‘protected class’ and will receive special treatment.” 

Now we will see how the LGBT law works, starting with military medicine.  Plans described in a Defense Department Fact Sheet mention minimal restrictions on new recruits whose doctors must certify that they are “stable in their preferred gender for at least 18 months.” 

After 180 days in uniform, transgender recruits will have access to “medically necessary” treatment, even though Pentagon officials won’t have any objective method to assess persons claiming to be transsexuals – “stable” or otherwise.  According to retired Rear Admiral Hugh Scott, an expert in military medicine, there are no objective diagnostic tests for transgenderism.

“Gender dysphoria” is a psychological condition that cannot be verified through lab results, a brain scan, or DNA analysis.  Dr. Joseph Berger, a prominent certified specialist in psychiatry, has stated that from a medical and scientific perspective, there is no such thing as a "transgendered" person. 

“Gender expression” and “gender identity" are terms of emotional appeal, not a statement of scientific fact.  Nevertheless, compliant officials will have to send individuals with serious psychological problems to field commanders, who will have to deal with complicated, still-unresolved issues that will distract attention from military readiness.

The RAND corporation, a Department of Defense contractor hired to legitimize Secretary Carter’s announcement, issued a report on implementation.  Here we find a cringe-worthy list of medical terms for transgender surgical amputations or augmentations of male/female body parts. 

The report also repeats LGBT activist claims that these procedures are no different from cancer-related mastectomies and reconstructive surgeries for soldiers suffering devastating genital injuries in combat. 

These comparisons are absurd, since surgeries on healthy organs, which many doctors consider unethical, are not the same as medical operations to cure disease or repair combat injuries.  This is especially so when surgery fails to relieve psychological problems and may make them worse.

The Transgender Implementation Fact Sheet states, “Any discrimination against a Service member based on their gender identity is sex discrimination [that] may be addressed through the Department’s equal opportunity [MEO] channels.”  This is the same fabricated principle that the Obama administration is using to tear apart public institutions nationwide. 

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not apply to the military, but regulations imposed in response to the Pentagon's latest interpretation of “protected” MEO status will invite litigation from LGBT activist groups like the Lambda Legal and Transgender Law Center. That group already is demanding expensive benefits for veterans seeking transgender treatments. 

Medical professionals who, on ethical grounds, will not provide controversial transgender therapy or surgeries could find themselves out of a job.  The P.C. Police are sure to target physicians like Dr. Paul McHugh, a former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the author of a Wall Street Journal article titled Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution.

In the 1960s, Johns Hopkins University pioneered “sex-reassignment” surgery for persons who did not identify with their biological sex.  The hospital discontinued the practice when follow-up studies in the 1970s found that operations on healthy tissue did not improve psycho-social adjustments.  

The recent suicide attempt of Chelsea (neé Bradley) Manning underscores a problem that will worsen when persons at high risk of suicide are inducted as a “special class.”  A 30-year study in Sweden found that within ten years of transgender surgery, patients experienced increased mental difficulties and 20-times higher suicide mortality rates. 

Last April, the National Endocrine Society reported that among transgendered military veterans studied at a single veterans’ hospital, 90 percent (90%) had at least one mental health diagnosis, and nearly 50 percent (50%) had been hospitalized after a suicidal attempt or suicidal thoughts.

As Dr. McHugh explained, the transgendered suffer from a “disordered assumption” about their own maleness or femaleness.  Similar disordered assumptions are present in persons suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia.  Patients starve their bodies due to imagined perceptions of being overweight.   

It must be difficult to go through life being confused about one’s sexual identity. As with other mental disorders, family support and compassionate psychological treatment are in order.  But there is no good reason for the military to normalize psychopathology as normal behavior that must be treated as a “civil right” in the military.    

Labor unions are not permitted in American armed forces, but “LGBT Pride” events in June, which the next administration should abolish, have served as lobbying festivals for activist groups that never will be satisfied.  Some costs of indulging ideology, which the “experts” don’t even mention, are beyond calculation. 

In the New Gender Order, every person in uniform will have to attend planned sensitivity training programs at all military installations, but indoctrination won’t end there.  Military Times reports that officials are reviewing curriculum materials to ensure acceptance of transgenderism in Defense Department elementary schools – the largest school and child care systems in the world.

LGBT sensitivity training at all levels will promote ideology contradicted by biological reality.  Cross-dressing clothing, hair styles, and even radical body alterations do not change DNA-determined gender characteristics that are identified at birth, not “assigned.”      

Implementation plans state that transgenders who meet military standards will use “berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities associated with their gender.”  This means that biological men will be eligible to join women’s athletic teams consistent with their gender identification, and reasonable expectations of privacy for women, girls, and boys in showers and other gender-separate facilities are now obsolete. 

Concerns do not center on the few who are psychologically confused, but on others who would take advantage of privacy-destroying rules, putting everyone at greater risk.  Military men or women who express concerns about their own (already scarce) privacy or that of their children will face accusations of “sex discrimination,” a career-ending offense. 

Secretary Carter looked ridiculous when he claimed that the greatest military in the world cannot succeed without transgendered personnel.  Anyone who questions delusions that are now official policy will be punished and forced out.  How will any of this improve readiness, discipline, or morale in America’s All-Volunteer Force?

In the next presidential election, social engineering should be debated as a national defense and security issue.  A new administration will have the power to review and reverse the consequences of political-correctness in our military, and Inauguration Day cannot come soon enough.

Elaine Donnelly is President of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military/social issues.

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