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29 June 2016

Reply to Military Times: Five things to watch for in the Pentagon's new transgender policy

In a recent post at Military Times they discussed the awaited Transgender policy and Five things to watch for in the policy.   I will go over all five points discussed in the the article, what I think may actually happen and what problems I see with their points.

#1 Recruitment
"The Defense Department will have to determine how to treat prospective recruits who have a diagnosis of "gender dysphoria."  It’s likely to become a routine question recruiters ask, and a new policy may require those recruits to show some evidence that the condition is “stable.” That definition may vary and could include documentation from a doctor showing that the individual does not require treatment. Or, in the case of individuals who undergo gender transitions, the military may require some time to pass before enlistment."
The big issue when it comes to "gender dysphoria."  is the stress, anxiety and depression that is commonly associated with  feeling your body is not physically the gender it should be.   I don't see any change needing to take affect in screening a transgender person over others.  Right now if someone has diagnosed depression, anxiety or extreme stress they will not be admitted in the military until it is under control.  So this part is a non-issue.

I do agree that if they have transitioned then someone should have to wait an appropriate time to recover fully.   That being said exception for hormones to be taken should be in place because after transitioning you still may need them.
#2 Uniforms, grooming & fitness
"The new policy will give the service branches some guidance on how to transition active-duty service member from one gender to the other. For troops, that will mean adhering to different grooming standards and uniform regulations and meeting new standards for physical fitness... It also may require official transition to a new barracks or berthing quarters. The Pentagon will hand down broadly written rules and then let the individual services hammer out the details."
When it comes to grooming I think one should follow what gender they identify with.  I do changes to uniforms, and grooming standards could make male and female standards closer like allowing long hear and ear studs for males and removing all alternate uniforms like dresses and just having the sets based on service.

The physical fitness standards should be based on individual jobs and not gender that would fix many issues with having transitioning personel.   For example if you are a S.E.A.L. you have a very high set of standards but if you want to be an IT, or OS then you can have more relaxed standards.  I do think everyone should have to meet BMI standards and if someone is transgender then they should have to meet the standards of what genitalia they have.

#3 Medical care 

"What will be the role of military doctors? The new Pentagon policy is likely to include details for how the military health system will work with troops who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria and require treatment, such as hormone therapy or surgery. For some rare medical conditions, troops can be referred to civilian health care professionals who are reimbursed through the Tricare health system, resulting in treatment completely outside the military health system. But in the case of gender dysphoria, the policy may require some involvement from military doctors."
 Right now the military restricts what elective plastic surgeries they will pay for.  If the member already joined  without transitioning then they where deemed ready for service and the transitioning surgery would not be medically  required.  The only policy change that should happen is allowing service members to pay for there own surgery and alotting leave for such a life choice.  Possibly if proscribed I think hormones should be supplied by the military.

#4 Commanders’ discretion

"The new policy may also offer unit-level commanders some guidance on how to supervise transgender troops. Typically commanders have some say in major medical treatment that is a medical necessity but not an emergency.... It’s unclear what role commanders will play in approving hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery for troops in their unit, when transgender troops can undergo surgery or begin hormone therapy. “The commander always has discretion to move the treatment a little bit to the left or right,” said Aaron Belkin, an advocate for transgender service with the Palm Center in California. “But commanders should not be given veto powers to deny medical necessary care.”

Again you have very little if any policy change needed here.  Already a Commander may deny elective surgery if it will adversely affect the mission.   Mr. Belkin may be a little off kilter a commander does not have "veto powers to deny medical necessary care.”  Commanders discretion is for denying surgeries that are elective or can be delayed.   If it is found that a service member HAS to transition due to mental health issues, depression, anxiety and stress it should be out of the Commanders hands and into the doctors but this is already true.  The amount of "medical necessary" transitioning surgeries is near zero but if one could prove it "medical necessary" then it would be covered because it was deemed "medical necessary" so this is also a non-issue.

Words will matter

"Beyond the legalisms, Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s words will carry a lot of weight as the active-duty force of 1.3 million begins to implement the change. That’s especially true after Carter and the Pentagon’s bureaucrats took far longer than initially expected to roll out the policy. Carter’s statements along with the service chiefs' will impact the behavior of individual commanders across the force, Belkin said. “There needs to be a strong statement of support from Secretary Carter on down that, regardless of how people feel about each other, they will have to work together. And all service members should be treated with dignity and respect, and anything else will not be tolerated,” Belkin said."
There will be some issues when transgender people are allowed in the military.  Back in 2011 when Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed many people that the world would end.  I was not surprised by a single person who came out as gay.  The fact was we already knew for the most part if someone was gay it had little to no effect on how well we did our job.   The big deference with the transgender being allowed in the military is right now if you have had the surgery then you can't join.   Some may be adverse the the idea of working with someone who has changed their gender identity but I feel few if any will ever act on it.

 If someone does disrespect someone or discriminates against them because their gender identity the military already has things in place to deal with it.   This kind of discrimination would fall under sexual discrimination and should be dealt with as such.   With many issues in the military these issues should be dealt with at the lowest possible point  either between individuals or up to military discipline.

Our military is the strongest in the world to remain that way we must advance ourselves, accept others, and always be ready for change.  If we can do this then we can overcome any challenge.

How do you feel about the issue of letting Trans people join the military?  What issues do you foresee happening?

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