More than 100 members of Congress have signed onto a letter slamming Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the “flawed scientific and medical assertions” he and other Pentagon leaders used to justify the Department of Defense’s new “Deploy or Get Out” policy, under which most transgender individuals would be categorized as “non-deployable.”
“There is a deep chasm between established medical research and the underlying analysis your Department used to justify this policy, and we call on you to reverse your recommendations,” the members of Congress write in their letter. “Furthermore, we request that you disclose the individuals on the Panel of Experts and the principal advisors they consulted in drafting the policy recommendations.”
The letter also points out that there’s a global medical consensus surrounding transition-related care for transgender people.
Most major medical and mental health organizations have expressed opposition to the military’s proposed transgender ban, which has been halted from being implemented by several federal courts.
The organizations assert that there is “no medically valid reason” to exclude transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.
“We also are concerned with the DOD’s report ‘cherry-picking’ of outdated studies to support its conclusions,” the members of Congress add. “At one point, the DOD report cites data from the Mayo Clinic that reaches back to 1971, which was years before the medical community had developed standards of care for gender dysphoria. At others, the report cites a Swedish study that includes subjects who underwent gender transition as far back as 1973.
“Further, the report does not mention that the author of this Swedish study released a subsequent study in 2016 showing, contrary to the research cited in the DOD report, that transgender individuals who obtain adequate care can be just as healthy as their peers.”
The members of Congress also note that there is no evidence in the DOD report that allowing transgender people who are receiving hormone therapy, even those who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, to serve would negatively impact military readiness or unit cohesion.
They also note that the report does not take into account any positive impacts that integrating transgender troops might have, citing reports of increased unit cohesion after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“This ban, similar to laws against racial integration, gender integration, and service by gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people, is antithetical to our country’s and our military’s values and belies the extraordinary commitment by our transgender service members,” they conclude.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force, who took the lead on circulating the letter, issued his own statement blasting the Trump administration for relying on shoddy science to justify their ideological goals.
“The Trump Administration’s decision to ban transgender troops abandons our proudest values, undermines our armed forces, defies established medical research and ignores basic science,” Kennedy said. “In attempting to create justification for the President’s thoughtless policy tweets, the Department of Defense used outdated studies and cherry-picked data. If President Trump and his Administration are committed to all of our service members, they will immediately reverse this bigoted ban.”