Thursday, January 24, 2019

APA Calls for Protection of Transgender Rights After Supreme Court Allows Military Service Ban

APA has denounced a Supreme Court decision handed down earlier this week that gave a green light to the U.S. military to restrict service by individuals who are transgender.

A sharply divided high court handed the Trump administration the victory for its policy banning transgender military service by a vote of 5-4, without discussing the merits of the case. In response, APA issued a statement calling for the protection of transgender individuals’ civil rights and expressing great disappointment in the decision to lift the injunctions on the transgender service ban imposed by a lower courts.

After President Donald Trump signed the ban last March to disqualify individuals who are transgender from military service except under certain limited circumstances, four federal courts issued preliminary injunctions to block it. The Supreme Court decision lifts the injunctions and allows the ban to take effect while the cases challenging the policy continue to wind their way through the courts.

“We are extremely concerned that the military will discriminate against transgender Americans who want to serve their country while these lower court cases are being decided,” said APA President Altha Stewart, M.D., in a statement issued to the media. “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. And as psychiatrists, we know all too well the negative impact that discrimination has on the mental health of those targeted.”

“Losing highly qualified transgender military personnel does not benefit the military or the nation,” added APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We firmly believe the United States should be more inclusive and stand against discrimination of any minority group.”

Trump’s policy bans individuals who have transitioned from their gender assigned at birth from joining the military. It also requires current troops to serve as members of their gender assigned at birth, with an exception for those who began a gender transition under Obama administration rules. Trump cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as reasons for the ban when he first announced the policy, by tweet, in July 2017.

The Supreme Court decision effectively reverses an Obama administration decision in June 2016 granting transgender service members the right to serve openly. The decision had also allowed transgender servicemembers to undergo gender transition if they were diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The reasons cited for the decision were the need to recruit and retain the best talent, provide clearer guidance to existing service members who are transgender, and a matter of principle.

A Rand Corporation review commissioned by the Obama administration in 2016 estimated the cost impact of providing gender transition services to service members who are transgender would be minimal, largely because there are so few, only about 2,500 to 7,000 of the 1.3 million of those on active duty.

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “APA Opposes Ban on Transgender Military.”

(Image: Kim Seidl/Shutterstock)

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