Read original oped here: USA Today: Trump's transgender ban is cruel, medically unethical and damaging to the US military
by Robert H. Goldstein
Though President Donald Trump tweeted his solidarity with LGBT Americans as PRIDE month began, his actions speak louder than words. His administration’s new policy on transgender military service deals a cruel blow to transgender service members who want to serve their country openly and proudly. The policy, which took effect last month, forbids military service by anyone who “requires gender transition” — forcing transgender troops to hide and deny who they are or face discharge.
As a physician, let me be clear: Requiring transgender people to serve in their birth sex is a dangerous and unworkable rule. It will cause great harm to transgender troops, lead to the loss of highly qualified service members, and weaken our military.
Under the military’s prior policy, transgender people were allowed to serve openly, and — like other service members — to obtain medically needed care. In stark contrast, the Pentagon’s new policy forbids all gender transition-related medical care. Service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria can remain in the military only if they undergo “counseling” to suppress who they are, despite clear evidence that such an approach is harmful and ineffective.
Trump policy has no basis in medicine or ethics
Forcing someone who is transgender to hide who they are or try to change their identity is medically indefensible, akin to conversion therapy for gay people. It is similarly unethical, harmful and lacking any medical basis.
As medical science has long understood, transgender people are a natural part of human diversity. While gender dysphoria — the diagnosis given to someone who experiences distress when forced to live as the wrong gender — is a real and recognized medical condition, it is also highly treatable. When transgender people have access to appropriate medical care, they are as healthy, stable and productive as anyone else. The experience of transgender troops who transitioned under the open-service policy, and have continued serving with honor and distinction at home and overseas, shows that is as true in the military as it is anywhere.
is why the American Medical Association and other organizations of physicians unequivocally recognize the medical necessity of transition-related care. The medical community recognizes gender transition as the standard of care — the only evidence-based, medically effective treatment for gender dysphoria.
Denying treatment is cruel and senseless
Rejecting this medical consensus makes no more sense than refusing to provide antibiotics to a sailor with bacterial pneumonia, or deciding not to set the bone of a recruit who breaks a leg during basic training. In all three cases, appropriate treatment can lead to healing and a healthy, productive future; denying that treatment will lead to predictable individual harm and deprive the military of qualified troops.
The medical treatments involved in gender transition are well-established and highly effective. In my practice, I have seen the effectiveness of transition-related care. Once they are able to live authentically, my transgender patients have thrived, going on to lead productive lives and to contribute their skills and talents to the larger society as students, scientists, accountants, and, yes, service members in the U.S. military.
The U.S. military should join the medical community and implement research-based medical practices, recognizing that you don’t treat gender dysphoria by forcing someone to suppress their identity. You treat gender dysphoria by providing affirming, medically necessary gender transition-related care.
Variations in gender identity are normal. Cruelly denying appropriate medical care is not.