Medical Groups Decry Trump’s Transgender Military Policy

In a letter to the secretary of defense, the American Medical Association declared there is "no medically valid reason" to prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the military. AMA joined two other major medical groups in opposing the policy.

The American Medical Association last week joined other medical groups and two former surgeons general in rejecting the Trump administration’s reasons for barring most transgender individuals from serving in the military.

Echoing statements in late March from the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the AMA said it opposes the policy that would ban most transgender individuals from service, except in limited circumstances. President Trump renewed his call for the ban last month, despite recent court orders requiring the military to allow continued recruitment of transgender people.

“We believe there is no medically valid reason—including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria—to exclude transgender individuals from military service,” AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, M.D., wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Matthis [PDF]. “Transgender individuals have served, and continue to serve, our country with honor, and we believe they should be allowed to continue doing so.”

(Mattis has not spoken publicly on the issue, but a  February Washington Post report suggested he was pushing Trump to allow transgender individuals to serve.)

Madara noted that AMA’s viewpoint is supported by former U.S. Surgeons General M. Joycelyn Elders (who served under Bill Clinton) and David Satcher (who served under Clinton and George W. Bush). The retired officials argued in a statement last month that the Defense Department, in a report to the Trump administration on transgender military service, “mischaracterized the robust body of peer-reviewed research” on transgender medical care.

In his letter to Mattis, Madara concluded that gender dysphoria “should not be used as a reason to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country. We should be honoring their service.”

LGBTQ groups praised the letter. “We understand the high standards for military service. Our medically necessary treatment does not degrade from the needs or requirements from our services as emphasized by the AMA,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, a transgender service member and the head of the advocacy group SPART*A, told NBC News. “We are showing that each and every day and will continue to do so.”

In a March 26 statement, Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, said the organization is “alarmed by the administration’s misuse of psychological science to stigmatize transgender Americans and justify limiting their ability to serve in uniform and access medically necessary healthcare.”

(itakdalee/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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