The American Medical Association sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis Wednesday arguing that there “is no medically valid reason” to exclude transgender people from serving in the military.
“We believe there is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude transgender individuals from military service,” AMA’s CEO James Madara wrote. “Transgender individuals have served, and continue to serve, our country with honor, and we believe they should be allowed to continue doing so.”
In a February memo, Mattis recommended that most transgender individuals should not be permitted to serve due to the “substantial risks” they pose to military readiness. Trump later signed a memo in March banning most transgender people from military service “except under certain limited circumstances.”
“Exempting such persons from well-established mental health, physical health, and sex-based standards, which apply to all Service members, including transgender Service members without gender dysphoria, could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality,” Mattis wrote in February.
However, the AMA thinks that the February memo “mischaracterized” research on transgender care.
“We share the concerns recently expressed by former Surgeons General M. Joycelyn Elders and David Satcher that the Defense Department’s February 22, 2018, Memorandum for the President mischaracterized and rejected the wide body of peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of transgender medical care,” Madara wrote.
The AMA letter also claims that the cost of allowing transgender individuals to serve is “negligible.”
“The financial cost is negligible and a rounding error in the defense budget,” Madara wrote. “It should not be used as a reason to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country.”
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, former U.S. Army Delta Force commander and executive vice president of the Family Research Council, highlighted the high cost of the Obama-era policy in July.
He pointed out that "the military has been reduced to stripping parts from museums, which is why it makes no sense to spend more than a billion taxpayer dollars on new body parts for anyone who joins the military and identifies as transgender.”
“After lost deployment and other costs are factored in, taxpayers could be on the hook for as much as $3.7 billion over the next ten years,” he added. “Spending billions of dollars on transgender surgeries and treatment plans, when the military has other priorities that would actually ensure its effectiveness in war, is irresponsible.”