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2018: Trans Persons in Military:

Enlistees Apply. Pres. Trump
Modifies his Transgender ban.
Criticisms of his ban.
CNN celebrates Father's Day.
Billboard battle in California.
Anti-Trump Light Show.
Trump loses at District Court
level, asks to bypass Courts of
appeal and go directly to the
U.S. Supreme Court.

LGBT flag

Image by Maiconfz. Downloaded from Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons

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Part 9

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2018-JAN: Transgender persons start to enlist in the military in spite of the uncertainty:

Following court orders by federal judges in Baltimore and Washington, the Defense Department started to accept new transgender enlistees at the beginning of January.

Logan Downs, 23 is a transgender man from Oregon. He was born female and now identifies as male. He decided to proceeding with enlistment even though there is uncertainty whether he will be accepted. He said: "I'm not worried." 1

There have been two negative factors that have been raised in opposition to transgender recruits:

  1. The cost: A Rand Corporation study found that the total cost of healthcare for transgender service members will be a miniscule addition to the $50 billion Defense Department healthcare budget: $2.4 to 8.4 million or less than 0.02% of the total budget.

  2. The concern over unit cohesion/operational effectiveness: The same study found that in the 18 other countries who permitted transgender recruits, including Australia, Canada, Israel, the UK, etc., there was little or no detectable impact on effectiveness.

Nicolas Bade, 37, a transgender male enlistee from Chicago said:

"The people I know in the military have said, 'I don’t care what your gender identity is, as long as you can do your job'." 1

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2018-MAR-23: President Trump's earlier ban on military transgender persons is modified:

The White House released a statement during the evening of MAR-23, saying:

"Today the President rescinded his previous memorandum on transgender service in the military in order to allow [implementaton of] Secretary Mattis' new policy developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders including combat veterans.

The experts’ study set forth a policy to enhance our military’s readiness, lethality, and and effectiveness. On the advice of these experts, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security have concluded that the accession or retention of individuals with a history of diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery -- presents considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards -- including those regarding the use of medical drugs -- equally to all individuals who want to join and ... [serve] for the best military force the world has ever seen. The Secretary of Defense’s memorandum and accompanying report have been made public today. 2

This statement appears ambiguous. It could be interpreted as banning all of those transgender persons who might "require substantial medical treatment," but as allowing transgender persons to serve if they are not currently suffering from gender dysphoria. But it might also be interpreted as banning essentially all transgender persons from the military if they had suffered gender dysphoria at any time in their past.

The American Psychiatric Association defines gender dysphoria as:

"In adolescents and adults, gender dysphoria diagnosis involves a difference between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, coupled with significant distress or problems functioning. It lasts at least six months and is shown by at least two of the following:

      1. A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.
      2. A strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.
      3. A strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender.
      4. A strong desire to be of the other gender.
      5. A strong desire to be treated as the other gender.
      6. A strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender. 3 [Emphasis not in the original text.]

Note that a person who currently identifies themselves as having a gender different from their biological sex does not necessarily suffer gender dysphoria, because they may now be comfortable with their gender identity. They may have received counseling, hormone treatments, support from family, friends, etc., and/or gender confirmation surgery.

According to a CNN video, President Trump tweeted three joined tweets. It seems to ban all transgender individuals, whether they currently suffer -- or have suffered in the past -- from gender dysphoria:

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victor and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [persons] in the military would entail. Thank you." 2

More court challenges are inevitable.

Also on MAR-23, Nanci Pelosi, leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted:

"No one with the strength & bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are. This hateful ban is purpose-built to humiliate our brave transgender members of the military who serve with honor & dignity." 4

Retired Lieutenant General Tom Spoehr, of the Heritage Foundation, believes that the Pentagon should be allowed to make exceptions for soldiers who are already-serving in the Military. He also said:

"The armed forces are not a petri dish for social experimentation, nor is military service a guaranteed right. Our military is the first line of defense for America’s own unique experiment in liberty."

According to the Los Angeles Times, the order will have "no immediate impact" because four federal district judges have issued injunctions in the recent past blocking implementation of a transgender ban.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had ruled:

"It must be remembered [that the transgender individuals who went to court to seek] to serve their nation with honor and dignity, volunteering to face extreme hardships, to endure lengthy deployments and separation from family and friends and to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives if necessary."

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights described the new policy as:

"... exactly the discriminatory, categorical ban that four federal courts have already barred from going forward."

Matt Thorn, president of OutServe-SLDN, said:

"This policy is a thinly veiled and feeble attempt by the Trump-Pence administration to justify the unnecessary discrimination of qualified patriots in order to advance their own personal agendas and in defiance of the administration's top military leadership. This plan is riddled with blatant animus, bigotry, and ignorance but conveniently void of any foundational bases or facts."

Hearings resume on MAR-27 before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Jennifer Levi, director of the transgender rights project at the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders group said that the new order:

"... categorically bans transgender people from service, with no legitimate basis. This policy deems [all] transgender people unfit for service. It's basically an absolute ban. We will continue to challenge this because there is no military justification for it. And I expect ultimately this will be resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court." 5

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2018-APR-04: Various national medical groups criticize the transgender ban:

Dr. James L. Madera, CEO of the American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, stating:

"We believe there is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude transgender individuals from military service. Transgender individuals have served, and continue to serve, our country with honor, and we believe they should be allowed to continue doing so." 6

Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, of the American Psychological Association, which has a membership of over 115,000 professionals, sent a letter stating:

"The American Psychological Association is alarmed by the administration’s misuse of psychological science to stigmatize transgender Americans and justify limiting their ability to serve in uniform and access medically necessary health care.

Substantial psychological research shows that gender dysphoria is a treatable condition, and does not, by itself, limit the ability of individuals to function well and excel in their work, including in military service. The science is clear that individuals who are adequately treated for gender dysphoria should not be considered mentally unstable. Additionally, the incidence of gender dysphoria is extremely low.

No scientific evidence has shown that allowing transgender people to serve in the armed forces has an adverse impact on readiness or unit cohesion. What research does show is that discrimination and stigma undermine morale and readiness by creating a significant source of stress for sexual minorities that can harm their health and well-being.

APA’s governing Council of Representatives adopted a resolution in 2008 supporting full equality for transgender and gender-variant people and calling for legal and social recognition of transgender individuals. ..." 7

Back in mid-2017, President-Elect Altha Stewart, M.D. announced the opposition of the American Psychiatric Association, to the banning of transgender persons from the military. The announcement read, in part:

"The APA stands firmly against discrimination against anyone. ... Banning transgender service members from serving our country harms not just those transgender Americans who have dedicated themselves to service of others, but it unfairly casts a pall over all transgender Americans. Discrimination has a negative impact on the mental health of those targeted.”

The APA in 2012 passed a policy statement that opposed discrimination against transgender people and called for their civil rights to be protected. Transgender people do not have a mental disorder; thus, they suffer no impairment whatsoever in their judgment or ability to work.

'Our stand in support of transgender military members is rooted in our policies against discrimination in all forms,' said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.'We firmly believe the world should be more inclusive. We are encouraged by Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford’s statement that there are no modifications to the current policy and we call upon Defense Secretary Mattis to allow transgender service members to continue to serve in the military." 8

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2018-JUN-15: CNN features a FTM transgender person for Father's Day:

Sabastion Sparks, a transgender man who was identified as female at birth, is married to Angel Sparks, a transgender woman who was identified as male at birth. Both temporarily suspended their hormone treatments in order that Sabastion could get pregnant. He later gave birth to their son, Jaxen. A CNN tweet featured Sabastion in their Father's Day article with the sub-title: "He gave birth. He breastfed, Now he wasts his son to see him as a man."

Some conservatives responded negatively:

  • Ben Shapiro tweeted: “And I want my son to see me as a flying superhero who is faster than a speeding bullet and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. But that’s bulls**** too, so he won’t."

  • Matt Walsh tweeted: “This is the literal definition of fake news. Just do me a favor and never, ever lecture about science if you think 'he gave birth' is a sentence that makes sense."

  • Jesse Kelly, writing for the Federalist said: "All Democrats have to do is not be insane. And they can’t do it."

The core problem causing the conservative-liberal/medical conflict over transgender persons is that a man's gender can be defined in three ways:

  • by the appearance of their genital "parts;"

  • by internal brain structures which typically come in male or female sizes and neuron densities, and

  • by the presence of a Y sex chromosome in their DNA.

This works well for over 99% of humans because all three indicators are in harmony. However, transsexuals like Sebastion typically have female genital parts, XX (female) sex chromosomes in their DNA, and male internal brain structures that cause his fixed belief that he is a male. So, he became pregnant, delivered and breastfed a child, identifies himself as male, and wants his son to treat him as a man. Since many conservatives consider that a person's genital parts completely define their sex (except for intersexual persons whose, DNA can be tested to confirm their sex) they consider Sebastion to be a female. Sebastion himself and most liberals consider him to be male.

There is no obvious method to resolve this conflict, unless conservatives adopt the scientific/medical concepts of gender. Since there is no noticable dialog on this matter at the present time, tthis change may take a few decades. In the meantime, the high (over 40%) attempted suicide rate of transgender persons, which is partly caused by a lack of acceptance of transgender persons, will probably remain very high for a long time. Pity.

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2018-NOV: Battle of the billboards in California:

A billboard outside of Joshua Tree, CA, before the midterm elections, read:

"Ask Paul Cook why he voted to allow our military funds to be used for sex-change surgeries!"

"Paid for by Tim Donnelly for Congress"

Rep. Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) has been a U.S. Representative for the 8th congressional district in Eastern California since 2013. During 2017, he voted against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have banned payment by the military of health care costs related to gender transitions by transgender persons.

The midterm elections in 2018 pitted Cook and Donnelly -- two Republicans -- against each other. It was the only race with two Republicans on the ticket.

Timothy Michael Donnelly (R) was a member of the California State Assembly, representing the 59th and 33rd districts.

Some residents in San Bernardino County, CA, were offended by Donnelly's billboard, and decided to finance one of their own. It said:

"TRANSGENDER PEOPLE DESERVE HEALTH CARE - SUPPORT -JUSTICE - SAFETY - LOVE"

The group said:

"The way we see it, Donnelly’s billboard was an act of hate, targeting our transgender neighbors. ... Our focus is making sure that our trans neighbors know that they are supported, appreciated, and celebrated in our community. ... Our billboard is an act of love."

Cook won the election with 41% of the vote; Donnelly lost with 23%. 9

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2018-NOV-19: Transgender group gave President Trump their message in a direct way:

During Transgender Awareness Week, the National Center for Transgender Equality projected a series of messages on the front wall of one of his hotels. One message read: "Transgender People #WontBeErased." It was projected above the front door of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Mara Keisling, the NCTE's executive director, said:

"So we’re here today to make a statement about visibility. A statement to let anybody know that when they attack us, we fight back. Every time. Every time they attack us, we get stronger, they get weaker. We will always fight back, and we will always win."

Later postings on the hotel facade were: "“Transgender Immigrants #WontBeErased," and "Transgender People of Color #WontBeErased."

She also said:

"We have always known our strongest tool in the fight against prejudice is the diversity and visibility of transgender people across the country, who will never be erased by this or any administration. As we end Transgender Awareness Week, we knew we needed to show that diversity where this President cannot ignore it. After all, he does not just attack us as transgender people. He also attacks us as immigrants, as students, as people of color, as survivors of sexual violence, and as members of the Armed Forces.

We are determined to push against each one of these assaults on our rights and defend our right to live as transgender people and every identity we carry with us." 10

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2018-NOV-23: President Trump asked the High Court to bypass Federal Courts of Appeals on Military Transgender cases:

President Trump's bans on transgender persons enlisting in the Armed Forces has been challenged in multiple Federal Trial Courts. It has been found to be unconstitutional by two judges:

  • Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Her decision has been appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2018-DEC.

  • Former Senior Judge Marvin Garbis, of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland who retired in mid-2018.

It has also been found unconstitional at a District Court in California and has been appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. A hearing was held by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the judges have not yet issued their ruling. 11 The administration has suffered three losses and zero wins.

The usual next step would be for the Trump Administration to wait for the decision by one or more Courts of Appeals. That decision could then be appealed by the loser to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the option of accepting or rejecting the appeal. However, the Administration appears to consider the matter so seriously and urgent that they have taken the unusual step of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to bypass the Court(s) of Appeal and take up the case immediately. In order to obtain a ruling by the middle of 2019, the High Court would probably have to hold hearings on the case in 2018-DEC. 12 Bypassing a Court of Appeal is an unusual step, but sometimes is taken in cases of extreme emergency.

Peter Renn, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, a main pro-equality LGBT group, said:

"Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced its intent to short-circuit established practice, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a preliminary district court ruling before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has even had an opportunity to rule. This highly unusual step is wildly premature and inappropriate. Yet again, the Trump administration flouts established norms and procedures. There is no valid reason to jump the line now and seek U.S. Supreme Court review before the appellate courts have even ruled on the preliminary issues before them." 12

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Previous articles in this series on transgender persons in the U.S. military:

Part 1: 2011/2012: Overview. Support. Current military policies. Care for veterans.

Part 2: 2016: Previous ends to discrimination by the military. Pentagon announces an end to discrimination against transgender members. Negative reactions.

Part 3: 2016: More negative reactions to the ending of discrimination. Positive reactions.

Part 4: 2016: President Trump's ban on transgender persons in the military.

Part 5: 2017: Trump bans transgender military service members via tweets. Federal court blocks the move.

Part 6: 2017-JUL/AUG: Impact on Trump's Ban of Transgender Military Service members. Public opinion polls. Court cases.

Part 7: 2017-AUG: Trans Persons in Military: Trump's restores Ban of Military Transgender Persons. Lawsuits filed. Gen. Mattis responds. Extra Cost of Transgender Members.

Part 8: 2017-OCT to 2018-NOV: Two Court injuctions against Pres. Trump's Transgender ban. CNN celebrates Father's Day. Billboard battle in California.

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A helpful list:

The Toronto Star has a list of false claims made by President Trump. At the end of his first six months in office, the list totals 447 false claims. They average 2.4 per day. At this rate he will accumulate over 3,500 false claims by the end of his first term in office. Daniel Dale, writing for the Star, commented:

"... Trump has proven uniquely willing to lie, exaggerate and mislead. By all expert accounts, he is more frequently inaccurate than any of his predecessors." 13

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Chris Kenning, "Transgender U.S. military recruits enlist amid uncertainty," Reuters, 2018-JAN-14, at: https://www.reuters.com
  2. Carlos Garcia, "Trump issues major decision on transgender members in the military," The Blaze, 2018-MAR-23, at: https://www.theblaze.com/
  3. Ranna Parekh, "What Is Gender Dysphoria?," American Psychiatric Association, 2016-FEB, at: https://www.psychiatry.org/
  4. Nanci Pelosi, Twitter text, 2018-MAR-23, at: https://twitter.com/
  5. David S. Cloud & David G. Savage "Trump order would ban most transgender troops from serving, setting stage for court battle," LA Times, 2018-MAR-24, at: http://www.latimes.com/
  6. Jana Pruet, "AMA claims there’s ‘no medically valid reason’ to exclude transgender people from military service," The Blaze, 2018-APR-04, at: https://www.theblaze.com/
  7. "APA Statement Regarding Transgender Individuals Serving in Military," American Psychological Association, 2018-MAR-26, at: http://www.apa.org/
  8. "APA Opposes Banning Transgender Service Members from Serving in Military," 2017-JUL-27, at: https://www.psychiatry.org/
  9. Alex Bollinger, "A Republican put up a hateful anti-trans billboard. So neighbors fought back with love," LGBTQ Nation, 2018-NOV-19, at: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/
  10. Alex Bollinger, "Trans activists projected a message to Donald Trump onto his DC hotel last night," LGBTQ Nation, 2018-NOV-20, at: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/
  11. William Vogeler, "Transgender Military Battle Continues as 9th Cir. Hears Arguments," Find Law, 2018-OCT-12, at: https://blogs.findlaw.com/
  12. Adam Liptak, "Trump Asks Supreme Court for Fast Appeal on Transgender Military Ban," New York Times, 2018-NOV-23, at: https://www.nytimes.com/
  13. Daniel Dale, "Donald Trump just had his most dishonest week as president: 7 days, 34 false claims," Toronto Star, 2017-JUL-27, at: https://www.thestar.com/

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Copyright © 2017 & 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update : 2018-JUN-17, Father's Day
Author: B.A. Robinson
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