Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Military expert talks about fitness of trans members to serve
by Molly Sprayregen
2017-08-27

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


On July 26, Donald Trump released a series of tweets declaring his decision to ban transgender service members from the U.S. military, blaming the supposed exorbitant healthcare costs trans service members would bring. The military announced it wouldn't take action unless there is official policy change, but the tweets reignited a rigorous debate surrounding trans service members' motivation and fitness to serve. ( Editor's note: Trump has since moved forward, signing a directive banning transgender military recruits and potentially banning those who already serve. )

Those who are in favor of a ban on trans service members, however, would be hard pressed to find any empirical research to support their ideas. According to Brandon Hill, a leading researcher in trans military service and the executive director of the University of Chicago Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health, the data on trans service members overwhelmingly suggest they are as fit to serve as anybody else.

Hill worked on a study, Fit to Serve?, published in Transgender Health in January 2016, that assessed the fitness of 55 trans active duty service members ( ADSM ). The study found that trans ADSM experience the same mental and physical health concerns as those who are cisgender. Hill explained that many of the studies on trans service members have focused on veterans, which he feels is not sufficient to determine fitness at time of service. Thus, studies like his, which found that the mental and physical health of trans ADSM differ widely from that of veterans, are vital to this debate.

Hill's study and about 20 others from the past few years have all drawn the same conclusions, the professor stated. Hill said the Rand Corporation conducted an assessment of all recent studies and found no reason to prevent trans people from serving.

"I'm not surprised that the administration didn't use the fitness argument," Hill said, "because its been shown that fitness is not the issue—that even having a gender identity disorder category or gender dysphoria diagnosis isn't exclusionary. Fitness is based on other mental health assessments, physical endurance, all of those things."

Hill is also working on a paper that discredits the idea that trans people enlist solely for free healthcare. "We had an operating hypothesis that that wasn't the case," he said, "Because the requirements of the military would probably outweigh people who are just doing this to get some kind of coverage."

Hill and his team assessed enlistment motivations of transgender service members and found that, like many service members, most enlist based on military recruitment campaigns that promise perks like exploring the world. "We didn't see anyone looking to get medical expenses covered, and it wouldn't explain the over 100,000 veterans that have already served that had no access to trans medical services." Beyond that, a study released by the Rand Corporation in 2016 found that trans healthcare would only increase the military budget by a maximum of 0.13 percent.

The military was set to lift the ban on trans enlistment on July 1, but Defense Secretary James Mattis delayed doing so for six months, claiming more needed to be done to assess whether lifting the ban would impede military readiness. Hill has also been working to debunk this military readiness argument, which has been used time and again to discriminate against women and minorities.

The idea is that people will become distracted if forced to serve beside anyone who makes them uncomfortable. "There has been no data to support that. At all," Hill emphasized. On the contrary, he believes forcing trans service members to remain in the closet and deal with the distress of concealing their identities would impede military readiness far more than cis and openly trans people serving side by side.

The military, Hill explained, is wildly different from the civilian world in that the comfort of the service members is more or less irrelevant. If a policy is made, it is followed, regardless of personal feelings or beliefs. "It's not to say [new policies and trainings] erase any kind of transphobia or potential discrimination," Hill said, "But they really set a policy that it won't be tolerated that is universally accepted by service members, at least while in service."

Before deciding to eventually lift the ban, the military conducted a 180-day assessment to see whether open service for trans people would be feasible and concluded it is. Thus, the military has worked diligently over the past year to make policies and hold trainings that make open trans service a reality, and Hill questions how a reversal of this policy will play out. "You just don't flip a switch on and off. … You have to figure out, what do we do with this information that we've gotten over the year? Are you going to start discharging people or are you not? On what grounds would they be discharged? Is it honorable, dishonorable? All those things have to be worked out. You can't just say no more ban, ban is reinstated, it doesn't work that way."

Because the ban is currently in a transition period, openly trans people cannot enlist, but those already serving may do so openly. If the ban is reinstated, it's hard to say what will happen to the estimated 15,000 trans people currently serving. "You're going to cut your military by 15,000—and at varying ranks?," Hill asked. "We interviewed people who were all the way up to commander. We're not just talking about entry-level soldiers. These are life, career military trans folks, so you're going to lose that level of intelligence, experience, expertise. It makes no sense, it's damaging, you're hurting your own military and the real question is for what gain?"

Soon, Hill will testify at a hearing held by the Chicago City Council to determine whether the city will pass a resolution that supports trans military service.

When asked what he'd say to someone who opposes lifting the ban, Hill said, "We have had hundreds of thousands of trans people serve in our military already, so there's no banning the people who have already served, and everyone, including the President himself and everyone in his administration, has benefitted from transgender military service, whether it was open or not … and to turn your back on the group [from whom] you've gained safety and protection for the country that you're leading is pretty discrediting, and that I would say to anyone, but I definitely would say that to the administration because I think it's offensive. You can't try to get rid of a group that has historically been there and say that they didn't contribute to your protection."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

U.S. Supreme Court backs Idaho trans woman's reassignment surgery 2020-05-22 - The United States Supreme Court denied Idaho's application to stop a transgender inmate's reassignment surgery, East Idaho News reported. The court order ...


Gay News

Brave Space Alliance announces board of directors 2020-05-21 - Brave Space Alliance—a Black- and trans-led "LGBTQ center on the South Side of Chicago that is dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally ...


Gay News

Trevor Project releases report on mental health of trans, non-binary youth 2020-05-21 - The Trevor Project's research team has published a new peer-reviewed article titled "Understanding the Mental Health of Transgender and Nonbinary Youth" in the ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Harvey Milk, trans woman killed, 'Queer the Census,' NYC Pride 2020-05-18 - LGBTQ-rights icon Harvey Milk would have turned 90 on May 22—and San Francisco is coming together ( virtually ) that day, a press ...


Gay News

VIEWS LGBTQ discrimination is a disgrace 2020-05-18 - Re the New York Times article, "Aimee Stephens, 59, Plaintiff in Transgender Rights Case" ( obituary, May 14 ): Our world has long ...


Gay News

Report: HHS rule will negatively affect 1.5M transgender Americans 2020-05-18 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to announce a final rule in the coming weeks that reverses federal ...


Gay News

'Matrix' co-creator cites Chicago LGBTQ organization in tweet 2020-05-18 - Matrix co-creator Lilly Wachowski cited Chicago LGBTQ organization Brave Space Alliance in a tweet, Variety noted. The transgender director was not happy ...


Gay News

Navy grants first waiver for trans service member 2020-05-15 - The U.S. Navy granted a waiver allowing a transgender service member to serve "in their preferred gender" for the first time since the ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Lady Gaga, Quibi shows, Alexandra Billings, 'Queer Eye,' podcasts 2020-05-12 - Lady Gaga announced that her sixth studio album, Chromatica, will be released Friday, May 29, via Interscope Records, a press release noted. The ...


Gay News

WORLD Blood-donation ban, Kenyan refugees, trans activist, club COVID-19 outbreak 2020-05-12 - The top court in Brazil ruled the country's ban on men who have sex with men ( MSM ) from donating blood is ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.