Debate Magazine

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Says He’s ‘open’ to Reviewing the Military’s Policy on Transgender Service

By Eowyn @DrEowyn


DailyMail: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said today he is “open” to reviewing the U.S Military’s policy on transgender service in the military.

Hagel called the issue “complicated because it has a medical component to it,” while indicating that the department tasked with overseeing the nation’s armed forces is willing to reconsider its ban.

“I do think it continually should be reviewed,” Hagel said. “I’m open to that, by the way. I’m open to those assessments.”

Transgender troops have quietly been calling on the military to remove its ban since the government repealed its Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy that disallowed homosexual individuals from serving in the military.

After Hagel spoke at a LGBT pride event at the Pentagon last summer, those in favor of lifting the ban hoped it was a sign of progress on the issue. But nothing has changed in the months after.

The Department of Defense’s current policy is to allow transgender people to serve in civilian positions, but not in the armed services. The military cites medical reasons as the cause for disbarment.

A March report commissioned by former U.S. Surgeon General to Bill Clinton Jocelyn Elders on behalf of San Francisco State University’s Palm Center posits that “there is no medical reason for the ban.”

Elders says the ban “expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, Guard, and reserve components.” (no specific report noted here to back up that statistic)

The report estimates that if the military that if the military allowed individuals wishing to undergo sex change to stay in the service, it would affect approximately 230 members of the service and “would place almost no burden on the military.” Each sex change operations would cost the government $30,000, it says.

Former Navy SEAL Team 6 Chris Beck, who now goes by Kristin Beck, has proposed a pilot program that would give service members in the process of changing their sex a year to complete the emotional and physical transition in return for two years of additional service.


The report had no visible effect on military policy when it was published.

“At this time there are no plans to change the department’s policy and regulations which do not allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military,” Defense Department spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said.

Hagel’s remarks to ABC News on Sunday may signal that the military has shifted positions on the issue.

“Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity, if they fit the qualifications and can do it,” Hagel said. “This is an area that we’ve not defined enough.”

If the U.S. changed its policy, it would join a host of other countries that allow transgender individuals to serve, including Great Britain, Canada, Israel, Spain and Sweden.

There is no medical reason for the ban? Perhaps Elders should go into military service to understand how things work.

Transgenders require constant hormonal support as their desired gender.  (They won’t produce testosterone or estrogen needed for the physical gender-related elements to work right and it has to come from somewhere.)  Usually needing a constant medical support makes people un-enlistable or, at least, non-deployable because it can’t be reliably supplied in the war environment that’s the military’s whole purpose.  Sure, there’re older female personnel doing hormone replacement therapy, but that’s much smaller dosages, aligned with physical (genetic) gender and augmentative (not essential) if the supply of meds can’t be maintained.  If the transgenders don’t need the hormone support, sure… but most times they will.


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