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Military & Veterans' Issues

Independent Commission Says No Medical Reason To Prohibit Transgender Soldiers

Eileen Pace

  A new report c0-authored by a former U.S. Surgeon General calls into question the decades-old ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

The study, released Thursday, says that there is no compelling medical reason for the U.S. military to prohibit transgender people from serving in the military.

The Transgender Military Service Commission went on to say that President Obama could lift the ban without going through Congress.

The commission, co-chaired by former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders and Rear Adm. Alan Steinman, a former chief health and safety director for the Coast Guard, called the prohibition "damaging” and found that:

  • Medical conditions related to transgender identity are the only gender-related conditions requiring discharge irrespective of fitness for duty.
  • Other military regulations have been updated to reflect the latest consensus of psychiatric experts on mental health issues, but while gender non-conformity is no longer classified as a mental illness, military regulations have not been amended to reflect that.

It also says that eliminating the ban would advance numerous military interests, including enabling commanders to better care for their service members.
Contained in a different set of regulations, the transgender ban continued after 2011, when "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" was eliminated.

The study was sponsored by the Palm Center, a research initiative of the Department of Political Science at San Francisco State University. 

The full report is online at this link.