2 Transgender Cadets To Graduate But Will Not Serve

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If they did not identify by their assigned gender and this was not considered permissible at the time of their joining, I find it a bit strange that they were allowed to attend a school that's paid for by tax years for 4 years, graduate, and never pay back for the education in form of service or monetary compensation. They elected to attend the service academies knowing that they didn't identify as their assigned gender, and knowing that there was a regulation precluding them from military service if they did not identify as their assigned gender. That reads like an Article 83 to me.

The part of the article that stood to me was "The annual price tag for the troops’ treatment, ranging from counseling, hormone treatment and surgery, was put at between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, according to RAND."

The United States army mission is as follows:

"The U.S. Army’s mission is to fight and win our Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders."

As I see it, spending an extra $2,400,000-$8,400,000 annually on transgender troops that perform at the exact same rate as their non-transgender counter-parts goes directly against this mission statement; those millions of dollars each year could instead be going towards things that help that Army fight and win our Nation's wars. I do believe that transgender people should be allowed to serve, however I don't think that the Army should pay extra to get a transgender troop when there are other troops out that are cheaper at can perform at the same; it should fall upon the troop to pay for their transgender treatments.
 

USAFA10s

USAFA Class of 2012 Kirtland, AFB
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I believe this is treated quite similarly to the situation I was in at the Academy. I entered USAFA fully medically qualified to commission in the AF, but during my junior year, I had a severe car crash that damaged my back. I was (and am) borderline medically qualified and as such, I was offered what is generally known as the "golden handshake", which is graduation without commission, but I found a doctor that could help with my injury and with some serious physical therapy I was making good progress on my injury and was able to show I was medically qualified with my AF PT test, so I turned it down (the full story is more complicated than that, but isn't important here). Essentially the idea is if disqualified medically, a cadet can often still graduate. I know of a couple other similar situations and while it is not common, it does happen somewhat regularly. Now to the current scenario.

When these cadets entered the Academies they were completely eligible to commission because they were not openly transgender and likely planned on staying that way (which under DADT was allowed), but when the regulation changed, they chose to identify themselves as transgender, but due to the slow process of developing the plan to accept new recruits and officers that are transgender they are currently not eligible to commission. While this is a little more complicated than my car crash (which wasn't my fault), it is still and example of the cadet being disqualified through no fault of their own (no regulations were disobeyed, no disciplinary problems, they didn't fail academically or physically, etc) and as such likely falls in the same category.

Now I am guessing the next post will be an argument about how they could have just kept quiet, and sure, that's true, but my guess is they did not realize the odd loophole they would fall through when they made the decision to come out and they have the right to be themselves just like anyone else.

As for the bill, the US needs to catch up to the rest of the world. Even IRAN covers sex-reassignment procedures. Referring to the same RAND study you are referencing (and ignoring the conclusions of):

Impact of Transgender Personnel on Readiness and Health Care Costs in the U.S. Military Likely to Be Small
https://www.rand.org/news/press/2016/06/30.html

Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly
https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1530.html

"Using private health insurance claims data to estimate the cost of extending gender transition–related health care coverage to transgender personnel indicated that active-component health care costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures."
 
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When these cadets entered the Academies they were completely eligible to commission because they were not openly transgender and likely planned on staying that way (which under DADT was allowed), but when the regulation changed, they chose to identify themselves as transgender, but due to the slow process of developing the plan to accept new recruits and officers that are transgender they are currently not eligible to commission. While this is a little more complicated than my car crash (which wasn't my fault), it is still and example of the cadet being disqualified through no fault of their own (no regulations were disobeyed, no disciplinary problems, they didn't fail academically or physically, etc) and as such likely falls in the same category.
So if you keep a medical disqualification secret you are eligible that makes you eligible to commission? That seems extremely convoluted. What if someone entered a SA that was color blind but kept it a secret? If they reveal that they are color blind a week before graduation, should they too be absolved of any service obligation and walk away with no bill for their free 4 years of education?

The difference between your situation and theirs is that you did not enter the service academy knowing that you had a disqualifying condition, and you didn't even have a disqualifying condition when you entered. They entered the SA knowing they had a disqualifying condition, and they kept it a secret (basically lied) in order to enter the service academy. If being transgender was not allowed for people in the military, I bet somewhere along the way there was a form that asked them if they were transgender, and they signed the line that said no. And now, because they kept their disqualifying condition a secret, they just cost tax payers roughly a million dollars and are providing those tax payers no service in return.

It also needs to be considered that anyone could simply go to a SA for 3 and a half years, decide they don't want to serve but want to graduate, and simply identify as transgender. Being transgender is between you and yourself. No one knows if you are actually transgender or not, and it would be extremely easy for anyone to abuse this system in place.

"Using private health insurance claims data to estimate the cost of extending gender transition–related health care coverage to transgender personnel indicated that active-component health care costs would increase by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures."
I don't think it matters that the increase in health care costs is only a .04-.13% increase. What matters is that paying extra for soldiers that perform at the same rate does not help our Army "fight and win our Nation’s wars", which is their stated mission; paying extra for soldiers that perform at the same rate goes directly against this mission. To me that is a frightening trend, that our Army is taking steps away from their stated missions and steps towards political correctness.
 

USAFA10s

USAFA Class of 2012 Kirtland, AFB
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So if you keep a medical disqualification secret you are eligible that makes you eligible to commission? That seems extremely convoluted. What if someone entered a SA that was color blind but kept it a secret? If they reveal that they are color blind a week before graduation, should they too be absolved of any service obligation and walk away with no bill for their free 4 years of education?

You are missing what the original DADT policy stated. Being CLOSETED and transgender was not disqualifying (only openly serving was prohibited), and being openly transgender WON'T be disqualifying once the policy is in place. Right now is a very strange loophole because of the transition period.

And again for the cost, it wouldn't even be an issue if we catch up to the rest of the world and get a universal healthcare system, but as it is, such a tiny increase seems worth it to me for the increased diversity, although on that point I can see where there is some disagreement and your point. My argument is that the increased diversity will contribute positively to the force (and in fact, diversity has been shown to improve a team's productivity and effectiveness) and there are plenty of better ways to save money than to force some servicemembers to pay for some of their healthcare themselves.
 

NavyHoops

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I have not made up my mind on this topic and continue to read and educate myself. Just one point... you are assuming they knew they were transgender. Without knowing these people, but having a few years (decades) on you, and watching classmates and acquaintances move through life its not as cut and dry as they knew they were at 17-18 years old. I have many gay friends and know 2 people who identify as transgender. Each of their stories of discovery came at varying parts of their life. So unless I know their stories I would not go as far as to accuse them of lying.

Yes there are additional healthcare costs. Not sure how I feel about that. I would want to research more what kinds of costs and what would be covered for a service member who separates under honorable conditions through the VAz I mean we watch kids each year who get DQ'd for exzema or using an inhaler 5 years ago because they could be sent to austere locations which could trigger things under stress and create an accessibility issue for medication. You basically can't take anything and pilot an aircraft. My concern would be a separate set of medical or deployment standards for transgender personnel. Will be interesting to see what General Mattis decides.
 
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You are missing what the original DADT policy stated. Being CLOSETED and transgender was not disqualifying (only openly serving was prohibited), and being openly transgender WON'T be disqualifying once the policy is in place. Right now is a very strange loophole because of the transition period.
You're right, I missed that point. Regardless, I don't feel that it's right that these 2 individuals got to take close a million dollars in our taxpayers money and never paid it back in any way. What I think should have happened is they simply should have given a later commissioning date. The transgender ban ends on July 1st. That's barely a month after graduation. I don't know how things work at USAFA, but at USMA they have an August graduation as well as a December graduation. You might see pushing their graduation back as a punishment to these 2 cadets, however, in a way I feel that it is their fault for choosing to give themselves a disqualifying condition right before graduation, especially when in would not be a disqualifying condition had they just decided to wait an extra couple weeks.

I have not made up my mind on this topic and continue to read and educate myself. Just one point... you are assuming they knew they were transgender. Without knowing these people, but having a few years (decades) on you, and watching classmates and acquaintances move through life its not as cut and dry as they knew they were at 17-18 years old. I have many gay friends and know 2 people who identify as transgender. Each of their stories of discovery came at varying parts of their life. So unless I know their stories I would not go as far as to accuse them of lying.
The issue for me is that what disqualified them is something between that is them and themselves. No one else can determine if what they are saying is true, and I therefore find issues with rewarding them(to some not having to serve is a reward) for simply stating something that no one else can verify to be true or false. In this case I do not think either cadet is likely to be lying, but I feel that a system like this is far too easy to abuse. All it takes is one lie, that is impossible to disprove, and a person can get out of half a decade of service. I also feel that is the cadets faults for choosing to give themselves a disqualifying condition right before graduation. They could have simply waited a couple extra weeks, but they chose not to, and I don't think they should be rewarded for that.
 
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Can't edit my post^, but when I said "I do not think either cadet is likely to be lying", I was referring to lying in the present about being transgender, not lying when they filled out their in-processing paperwork.
 

USAFA10s

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I agree that both academies should have simply postponed their commissioning. That makes the most sense to me (and if I were one of those cadets, it is what I would want as well). I am not sure why they didn't, as it is something that is done on occasion in the case of an injury that postpones physical training requirements, but there may be more to the story that we do not know.
 

DesertCaliMom

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I'm with Hoops on this one. There are varying degrees of transgender medical and psychological support, but when comparing to disqualifying DODMERB conditions, there's some glaring disparity. If the person involved requires hormone support or has specific needs following transition surgery, how is that not different than the mentioned eczema or allergies?
 

Wishful

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My understanding is that the AFA cadet wants to commission, the AFA advocated for that as well, but was overruled.
 

hornetguy

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I'm with Hoops on this one. There are varying degrees of transgender medical and psychological support, but when comparing to disqualifying DODMERB conditions, there's some glaring disparity. If the person involved requires hormone support or has specific needs following transition surgery, how is that not different than the mentioned eczema or allergies?

I had concerns over this but through several transgender military friends/acquaintances, I got a lot of good information to learn about the issue [link here].

For medical:
Q: Are transgender people deployable to forward locations and other austere environments?

A: Yes. In fact, DoD has been deploying transgender individuals for over a decade as civilians and contractors to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf and embedding them with US forces there.In this capacity, transgender Americans have served openly in forward locations such as Camp Anaconda and Balad Air Base in Iraq, New Kabul Compound and Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, and aboard US Navy ships operating in the Persian Gulf. Additionally, our allies have successfully deployed transgender service members for more than 20 years and into every theater of the war on terror. There are no special medical requirements that would prevent a transgender service member from deploying to any location where US troops serve today.

Q: Will providing transgender service members access to necessary medications place an additional burden on the military health care system?

A: No. The military health care system already provides the medications commonly used for HRT to non-transgender service members as treatment for other conditions. HRT for transgender service members would not require new pharmaceuticals, logistics, or significant cost.

Q: What if a transgender service member is prevented from accessing their medications due to logistical or tactical circumstances?

A: Such a situation is highly unlikely. Allied militaries in which transgender individuals serve openly have found the rate of such occurrences to be extremely low. In those circumstances where temporary loss of access to HRT medications is truly unavoidable, the effects are neither debilitating nor life threatening.

I was on oral HRT from day one as this was prescribed by my NHS endocrinologist, and simply stocked up from my medical center before deployment. When I suddenly found myself extended for 2 months in the Falklands in 2011, I ordered more through the medical center there.

– Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom, RAF

Q: Will transgender service members spend a lot of time in a non-deployable status?

A: No. Transgender service members in other countries report spending less than six months total in a medically non-deployable status. Typically, the medical elements of transition that might affect readiness are scheduled so as not to impact unit readiness (i.e. while the unit is on a home cycle).

I was kept at G1 A1 Z1 [physically fit for flying and ground deployment without any restriction] and retained my flying category throughout, with the exceptions of having a month off flying duties when I began my HRT (which is the standard time-period for any long-term medication) and 6 months off flying in total, following my Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS), during which time I was medically downgraded to P7 (non- deployable)... Shortly after I began HRT though, before my public transition, I was deployed for 7 weeks to the Falkland Islands in a flying role and again for 9 weeks towards the end of my transition, a few months before my GRS.

I am now A1 P2, which means there’s no restriction to my flying or my deploying and is simply a marker to show I am on long-term medication.29 – Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom, RAF

There's a lot of information at that link so if you want to become more informed on the topic, it's a good read.

As far as identification and costs and all that, I can attest that LGBT people (G in my case!) often don't understand or accept being LGBT until they are much older. I, myself, did not really begin to accept that fact until my firstie year of USAFA. Fortunately, DADT was repealed the year I graduated (after graduation) and went into effect the next year. But for many thousands of people who joined earlier than me, their journey commonly resulted in other than honorable discharges and horrible experiences when it took that long to understand their own sexuality. The journey for such things is very individual and dangerous to generalize.

First, the notion of 'voluntary' surgery/treatment is a straw man argument. In the medical community, transgender mental health is not considered voluntary or notional. That argument is long sense gone in established medical literature. But I'll entertain the straw man for a moment and why it simply doesn't make sense. If someone enters the military and is a smoker or drinker and develops cancer associated with either, in no way does anyone attempt to argue that their cancer treatment should not be covered nor that its their fault so they can live with the consequences. People who have accidents because of high risk activities (skiing, skydiving, boating, etc.) are also not treated in that way nor forced to pay their medical. In fact, these categories often receive VA disability and benefits after service. Singling out transgender individuals under these same arguments doesn't make any sense if we don't maintain that standard for every single medical problem. But more importantly, we generally consider that straw man ethically and morally wrong as a society.
 
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First, the notion of 'voluntary' surgery/treatment is a straw man argument. In the medical community, transgender mental health is not considered voluntary or notional. That argument is long sense gone in established medical literature. But I'll entertain the straw man for a moment and why it simply doesn't make sense. If someone enters the military and is a smoker or drinker and develops cancer associated with either, in no way does anyone attempt to argue that their cancer treatment should not be covered nor that its their fault so they can live with the consequences. People who have accidents because of high risk activities (skiing, skydiving, boating, etc.) are also not treated in that way nor forced to pay their medical. In fact, these categories often receive VA disability and benefits after service. Singling out transgender individuals under these same arguments doesn't make any sense if we don't maintain that standard for every single medical problem. But more importantly, we generally consider that straw man ethically and morally wrong as a society.
I feel that the difference between transgender treatment and those other treatments that you mentioned is that a person can function like a normal human being without transgender treatment. In those other cases, they oftentimes cannot. If someone smokes and gets lung cancer and you don't give them treatment, they are going to die. If someone skydives and destroys their leg and doesn't get treatment, they are never going to walk again. If a transgender person doesn't get transgender treatment, they can still continue living like a normal human being, just like millions of transgenders have for the thousands of years that mankind existed without transgender treatment.

Also, it seems as if you are trying to argue that the military should pay for people's transgender treatment. If someone tries to enter the Army with a broken leg, the Army should not have to pay for that treatment because the event necessitating treatment occurred prior to the person entering the Army. Similarly, if someone tries to enter the Army that is transgender, the Army should not have to pay for that treatment because the event necessitating treatment occurred prior to the person entering the military.
 

hornetguy

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I feel that the difference between transgender treatment and those other treatments that you mentioned is that a person can function like a normal human being without transgender treatment. In those other cases, they oftentimes cannot. If someone smokes and gets lung cancer and you don't give them treatment, they are going to die. If someone skydives and destroys their leg and doesn't get treatment, they are never going to walk again. If a transgender person doesn't get transgender treatment, they can still continue living like a normal human being, just like millions of transgenders have for the thousands of years that mankind existed without transgender treatment.

Also, it seems as if you are trying to argue that the military should pay for people's transgender treatment. If someone tries to enter the Army with a broken leg, the Army should not have to pay for that treatment because the event necessitating treatment occurred prior to the person entering the Army. Similarly, if someone tries to enter the Army that is transgender, the Army should not have to pay for that treatment because the event necessitating treatment occurred prior to the person entering the military.

Suicide rates, depression, anxiety, etc. are significantly higher for transgender members who do not receive treatment or are denied treatment. I'll reiterate:
  • Many are not aware or have not understood their transgender status before joining - trying to parse that out is not really a reasonable thing to do for people and should not be a test of how that person is treated.
  • Please read the entirety of the link I posted in my previous post. The medical part is well-addressed and contradicts the idea that they cannot function without treatment or that treatment is burdensome/expensive. For most, the treatment is no different than women having birth control pills.
  • While still a straw man argument, I'll skip smoking and skydiving to people who gets braces, surgery for any number of more cosmetic procedures (gynecomastia fix, scar treatment, etc.), or any number of minor procedures for conditions that are not life-threatening nor debilitating. We still cover them mostly without a second thought - transgender individuals should not be subject to additional scrutiny along these terms.
  • Denying appropriate treatment according to defined medical practice for transgender individuals leads to much higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide. We are trading treatment for the root cause for treatment of debilitating mental health issues.
Our medical coverage is not bare bones - we don't treat people only when they have life-threatening issues or debilitating injuries. Rather, our medical coverage treats a wide variety of medical issues and is there not just to prevent death, but provide a good quality of life. We also don't really subject every medical treatment to an individual cost/benefit analysis (outside actual effectiveness in treating the associated medical problem) or deem if the treated person is worthy of receiving proper care. I, for one, appreciate living in a society that generally accepts medical coverage is meant to provide for a good quality of life, not just preventing death. So, again, the military can provide the medical treatment for transgender service members as we do for a variety of people with a plethora of medical issues that require treatment.
 

hornetguy

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The problem is the military medical community hasn't figured out how to use 800 mg of Motrin to make this happen...

Broke your leg? Have a Motrin!
Severed your spine? Have a Motrin!
Contracted Ebola? Have a Motrin!
Need a sex change? Have a Motrin!

The magical pill to solve your every problem!
 

flieger83

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Hey Hornet....is that link a DOD link only (CAC required?)

I've tried multiple times; no luck with getting that document.

Steve
 

conrack

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more and more medical experts are stating that transgenderism is a delusion and psychiatric affliction, not a physical one. Personally I think if you cant figure out what sex you are you don't have your crap together enough to be in the military.
 

hornetguy

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Hey Hornet....is that link a DOD link only (CAC required?)

I've tried multiple times; no luck with getting that document.

Steve

Steve, it's a private organization. I can access on both my phone and computer. Maybe your browser is struggling with the PDF? Try going to the download page and see if you can access that way.
http://www.spartapride.org/learn_more

more and more medical experts are stating that transgenderism is a delusion and psychiatric affliction, not a physical one. Personally I think if you cant figure out what sex you are you don't have your crap together enough to be in the military.

This is completely false. The major medical organizations have come out in clear support of transgender rights and care. Some examples of large, significant, and non-partisan medical organizations who advocate for transgender rights and health:
  • American College of Physicians (largest internist organization)
  • American Medical Association
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Physician Assistants
  • American Public Health Association
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Link on position statement by organizations
 
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