New documents outlining the Trump administration’s closed-door proceedings that led to its latest transgender military ban have become available, and what they reveal casts further doubt over the policy.
After the original ban was blocked by federal courts, and U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis, who is hearing one of the challenges to the ban, asked the administration to turn over information relevant to the case, the administration countered by saying it would reveal a new policy.
That policy, unveiled late last month, still keeps most transgender people out of the armed services, by prohibiting those with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or requiring transition-related medication or surgery, from military service “except under certain limited circumstances.”
It too has already been blocked by a federal judge.
Defense Secretary James Mattis, whose name is on the report recommended the latest version of the ban, despite sources claiming it was really the work of Vice President Mike Pence in conjunction with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson, was unable to provide the names of the so-called “medical experts” the administration claims were consulted.
Mattis cited ongoing litigation surrounding the ban as reason he might not be able to provide those names, though he did tell Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, who requested them, he would “see what I can provide, or when I can provide it.”
Those names are redacted from the documents, but, as ThinkProgress reports, what they do contain is still enlightening.
The panel consisted of those who offered both positive and some negative conclusions concerning transgender soldiers and their ability to serve.
A “vast majority” said it was their belief that transgender individuals would be undeployable for up to two years due to medical intervention, such as hormone replacement therapy and gender confirmation surgery.
The RAND study, the findings of which helped inform the Obama administration’s decision to lift the ban on transgender people serving openly, found hormone replacement therapy would not be an issue for deployability, and said recovery time for surgical procedures would take considerably less time, measuring it in a matter of weeks.
While the names of the guests who spoke to the panel are still unknown to the public, we do know they heard from nine current transgender service members, a panel of military medical experts, and a panel of civilian medical experts.
Two of the transgender service members who spoke to the panel, Navy Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann and Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King, also spoke to ThinkProgress and characterized the proceedings as leaving them with a hopeful feeling that did not come to pass once the recommendations were revealed.
None of the service members reported issues with deployability or unit cohesion, which matches what the heads of the Armed Forces—Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller, and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson—have all testified to before Congress.
Dremann said a number of the panel members had also been part of the group that previously decided to end the ban.
King described to the panel how she was able to fit all of her surgeries into the course of one year, only missing three weeks of work in total.
Both groups of medical experts backed allowing transgender service members to openly serve, suggesting a ban would be damaging, with one expert arguing that allowing trans people to transition could “increase the lethality and readiness of the force” by “providing health care to an unserved population.”
A “Data Extracts” document also revealed the RAND studies estimate that the overall cost of providing transgender related healthcare to the military would be relatively minuscule proved true.
Last year, which was the first full year transgender people could openly serve, the military spent around $2.2 million on transgender health needs, less than the $2.4 million to $8.4 million per year the RAND study estimated it would cost, which represents about a 00.1 percent increase in overall military health expenditures.