November 21, 2019 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

New Study Tears Down Trump Ban

A new study from the Palm Center, a think tank that focuses on the role of LGBTQ+ people in the military, offers a thorough rebuttal to the Trump administration exclusion of trans people from military service.

U.S. President Donald Trump first announced a ban on trans military personnel via Twitter on July 26, writing, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…[t]ransgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” In reality, the president had consulted with neither his generals nor any military experts, and his tweets are directly contradicted by several high-level military reviews, a shared statement by six former U.S. Surgeons General, and a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan public policy think tank.

The courts were fast to point this out in the legal challenges that followed the policy change. One federal judge wrote in November, “President Trump’s tweets did not emerge from a policy review,” adding, “A capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders.”

Following multiple legal setbacks, the administration produced a report with a more thorough but equally specious justification, entitled, “Department of Defense Report and Recommendations on Military Service by Transgender Persons.” 

In a 56-page rebuttal, the Palm Center argues that the Pentagon’s report mischaracterized scientific research and made unsupported claims based on a highly-selective sample of data. “This report undertakes that assessment and finds its rationale wholly unpersuasive,” the Palm Center study says.

The study tackles the three main arguments made by the Trump administration. First, that trans military personnel are less fit for service because of diagnoses of gender dysphoria—the clinical term for not identifying with one’s assigned gender at birth. Second, the Pentagon’s report claim that there is “considerable scientific uncertainty” about the effectiveness of treating gender dysphoria, further justifying an exclusive policy towards trans people. Finally, the assertion that medical costs for treating trans folks diagnosed with gender dysphoria runs three times higher than costs for other troops and would overburden the military’s healthcare system.

According to the Palm Center’s evaluation, the Department of Defense (DoD) performs a highly-selective reading of the available research and omitted the majority of scientific findings. Contrary to the DoD’s claims, the scientific and medical communities have concluded that gender dysphoria is treatable and does not justify a ban on transgender service in the military. Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) have released statements opposing the Trump administration’s decision.

In a statement responding to the DoD’s report, the AMA accused the Pentagon of having “mischaracterized and rejected the wide body of peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of transgender medical care.”

The studies that the Pentagon cites in support of the ban actually undermine its case, the Palm Center finds. “Critically, even these four studies, supposedly representing the best evidence documenting the uncertainty about transition-related care’s efficacy, all conclude that such care mitigates symptoms of gender dysphoria,” the Center writes.

In addressing the issue of cost, the Palm Center shows a key flaw in the Pentagon’s cost-calculating approach. The DoD reported that costs for people diagnosed with gender dysphoria are three times higher than for average service people. The problem with this figure, the study says, is that whenever you isolate the costs for a specific medical subset, the results will always be higher than the average cost for the entire military. For instance, you would most likely find a similar price gap if you compared medical costs for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with military personnel as a whole.

The study concludes with a turn towards history. “Just like justifications for prohibitions against women and African Americans in the military as well as the failed DADT policy, the case for banning transgender individuals from the armed forces is not supported by evidence and is unpersuasive,” it says.

Related Posts

22 Trans Lives Lost to Violence This Year (So Far)

November 20, 2019

November 20, 2019

One this day 21 years ago, Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance to memorialize the vicious murder of...

TRANS HOMELESSNESS in LA: Social injustice, or gender identity bias?

November 20, 2019

November 20, 2019

A personal overview from a trans activist and MSW candidate from USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. By Christina...

LGBTQ Center of Long Beach to Honor Trans Day of Remembrance

November 19, 2019

November 19, 2019

So far in the United States this year, at least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been violently killed,...

How Lou Sullivan Created His Own Future

November 18, 2019

November 18, 2019

Newly-released diaries of the trans icon give us something to think about this Transgender Day of Remembrance. When Gwendolyn Ann...

“Dems, Drinks and Drag Queens” Bring Rainbow Wave to Long Beach

November 15, 2019

November 15, 2019

Senator Kamala Harris and Mayor Robert Garcia will help kick off the California Democratic Party’s fall nominating convention at Hamburger...

JQ International’s Trans Brunch to Honor Trans Day of Awareness, Build Community

November 14, 2019

November 14, 2019

In part of recognition of Transgender Awareness Month, the City of West Hollywood is co-sponsoring the JQ International Trans Equality...

Documentary Honors Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ Vets for Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

November 11, 2019

In honor of Veterans Day, some LGBT Senior Veterans at the Los Angeles LGBT Center shared their stories and experiences...

Fighting Ignorance, Poverty with Job Fair for Trans, Intersex Folks

November 7, 2019

November 7, 2019

“Thriving in Los Angeles as a person of trans, non-binary, or intersex experience is challenging,” Eden Anaï Luna, Manager of...

LA Pride’s Bid to Host 2025 World Pride

November 5, 2019

November 5, 2019

Today, Christopher Street West (CSW), the non-profit that produces LA Pride, announced an official bid to host WorldPride in Los...

Trump Administration Attacks LGBTQ People Yet Again with HHS Proposed Rule

November 4, 2019

November 4, 2019

To kick off Trans Awareness Month, the Trump Administration has outdone itself in trampling over LGBTQ+ folks’ rights. Today, the...

LGBTQ+ Senior Housing in Gay Paradise

October 19, 2019

October 19, 2019

More than 39 million people in the U.S. are age 65 years or older including 2.4 million people who identify...

UPDATE: Ed Buck’s Court Hearing Set for Next Month

October 16, 2019

October 16, 2019

Political activist Ed Buck, who pleaded not guilty last week to federal drug charges in connection with two overdose deaths...

Edify TV: Westside Measles Exposure

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has announced that a person with measles visited several Westside businesses this...

PrEP Now Available Without Prescription in CA

October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019

Access to HIV prevention medications got a little easier. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would allow...

Everything You Need to Know About Tonight’s LGBTQ Town Hall w/ Democratic Presidential Candidates

October 10, 2019

October 10, 2019

It’s showtime, folks! Tonight is the LGBTQ Town Hall featuring Democratic presidential candidates answering all things queer. Human Rights Campaign...