Hungerford transition, in lieu to the Military’s health care

Hungerford 8 Daniel HungerfordProfessor CastruitaEnglish 101January 29, 2018Can Transgender People Serve Their Country??On August 25, 2017, President Donald Trump gave a memorandum, “Military Service by Transgender Individuals” which would bar Transgender people from serving in the military. This memorandum brought a great social controversy into American society, the LGBT community felt attacked by his views, but others agreed with his views. In response to this, The Department of Defense is developing an approach to President Trump’s memorandum that will address current Trans-people serving in the military, as well as future applicants who would like to serve. Moreover, the topic of trans-people sparks a wide variety of responses from America. For many people who may have never interacted with trans individuals, this could be new information and something they have never thought about. However, there are many lies, myths, and stereotypes about trans-people which need to be explored and addressed to the public. What is a transgender person? In referencing President Trump’s memorandum claiming Transgender people causes the military “extreme medical costs,” what exactly are the costs of transition, in lieu to the Military’s health care budget? And most importantly, are trans-people physically and mentally able to serve? Added to this are the various social, political, media, and religious views, which could make this topic very confusing for those without an opinion. Exploring the topic of transgender people, discussing trans-people in the military, health related issues of trans-people, and finally the willingness of futuretransgender military participants help make a formulated solution to the idea: are trans-people able to serve??Understanding gender also comes with considering what it means to be Transgender (TG) and identifying the subject before addressing their ability to serve. Transgender refers to an individual who does not identify with the sex given to them at birth. As an example, someone who looks male and is assigned the male sex at birth but might later chose to identify themselves as female. This is also known as Gender Dysphoria (GID) which is the diagnosis that a person is stressed by the body that does not match their preferred gender. GID is usually treated by “transitioning” to the sex a person identifies with. Some people who decide to transition, would do many things to make their physical appearance match their preferred gender, such as changing their hair styles, clothing styles, and grooming. However, it is important to note that many TG, but not all, do different medical options to make their physical appearances match their preferred gender; this includes laser hair removal, hormone replacement therapy, and sometimes gender reassignment surgery. However, gender dysphoria also brings up the topic of gender in of itself. Gender needs to be explored in order to understand fully, TG people.To some, biological sex and gender is the same, for others this is not always the case. Gender is defined as the state of being male or female, typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. Researchers like Allison Ross, in her dissertation published in the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal entitled “The Invisible Army: Why the Military Needs to Rescind Its Ban on Transgender Service Members”, argues that gender is a social construct, as compared to gender’s definition. Here she argues that American society is dominated by a gender normative of male and female, “This male/female binary has existed for centuries.” (Ross, 187) Ross argues that gender has a more fluid construct than what we have socially accepted for past generations. Much like how the sex at birth construct identifies male/female, gender is a social construct; the gender binary construct also does the same but they are exclusive. In reference to this, The American Psychiatric Association describes gender that, “gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder.”(2013) They also found that many TG brain’s usually think more along the lines of their preferred gender, meaning their bodies do not truly match their brains. Although now I digress, it is plausible to ask: “What does society think?” In 2012, the Human Right’s Campaign polled more than 10,000 people (mostly millennials) about their views on gender and found that most of them viewed gender as a “broad spectrum.” Their survey also found that 6% of the young LGBT participants also identify “genderfluid,” “androgynous,” or other terms that do not fit into the male/female binary. Young people today are often trying to place themselves on this broad spectrum and more people today are in support of TG than ever before. Although there is knowledge of TG, gender constructs, and gender identities, the trans-community often faces many hardships such as their ability to serve in the military.?Historically, even after the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DODT) by the Obama Administration, TG people have not been allowed to serve in the American Military openly. The TG community is often the most marginalized community, and even though “LGB” people celebrated the repeal of DODT, it still excluded the trans-community. The question must be aimed here: “Where do trans-people fall in their fitness to serve?” A person with a male body must be able to meet service requirements, and a person with a female body must be able to meet the standards as well. Many service members have a wide variety of health-issues that the Military treats to ensure their readiness to serve, these issues might include high-cholesterol, forms of cancer, concussions, and other mental health issues.  However, even after the repeal of DODT, TG persons aresometimes not allowed to serve openly due to their diagnosis of GID, and because of the idea that they might leave more often due to their surgeries. Many TG people fit the ability to servebut because of their GID diagnosis, they are sometimes not allowed to serve openly.Other implications arise for TG people serving in the military, such as their mental health. Excluding GID, included in this would be other health issues such as: depression, anxiety, and the alarming suicide rates of TG people. Recently, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly known as Bruce Jenner) decided to transition and has always been an activist of trans-peoples’ rights. In 2015 she won the “Woman of the Year Award,” and during her acceptance speech she addressed the issues of many young TG people, to which she also named, commit suicide and that she feels if she “came-out” earlier maybe her identity being public to the media might have stopped that. This brings another issue, in order to make a formulated opinion, one must explore the mental health history of TG people excluding GID. In a study published by the University of New Rochelle entitled, “Fit to Serve? Exploring Mental and Physical Health and Well-being Among Transgender Active-Duty Service Members and Veterans in the U.S. Military” (2017) researchers Brandon J. Hill and Dyna Walker explore the mental health implications of TG active service duty members (ADSM) and TG veterans in an anonymous survey. Being one of the few studies of its kind, the study explores participants lifetime mental and physical health problems as well as their “out-ness” and family support. In their findings, the two most prevalent physical health issues were back and knee problems, meaning that both the ASDM and veterans’ transitioning were not their main reason for clinical visits. However, the wide array of their mental health issues excluding GID were prominent. The most common cited mental health issues excluding GID were: depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and substance abuse, but this was also parallel to their cisgender counter parts. What this means is although TG people experience more variety of mental health issues, Trans-ADSM and veterans are not more likely to have health related issues than their colleagues. ?Moving on from the mental health issues, one must examine the biggest concerns of TG people serving in the military. The cost of transitioning, as noted by President Trump, is also one of the main reasons for the argument that TG people cannot serve. First, it is important to understand that not all TG people get gender assignment surgeries. However, I’d like to explore the costs of transitioning to show the impact TG people have on the Military’s health care budget. A study done in 2016 by the Rand Corp. commissioned by the Defense Department, in their response to President Trump’s memorandum, shows that TG people have a minimal cost on the total military budget. The study examined between 1,320 and 6,630 out of the military’s total 1.3 million members, showing that active duty TG service members make up a small portion of the total members. The lead researcher of the study, Agnes Schaefer, also states that “Only a small portion of service members would likely seek gender transition-related medical treatments that would affect their deploy-ability or health care costs.” (Rand Corp, 2017) This is in comparison to the idea that TG service members would often have to take more medical leave due to their transitioning which is not always the case. Moreover, the budget issue comes into place. Between the 25 to 135 new hormone treatments and the 25 to 130 gender related transition surgeries, the study found that this would cost anywhere from $2.4 million to $8.4 million which is .14% of the Military’s $6 billion budget. This is an exceedingly small portion of the total budget and because of these numbers, it’s hard to agree with the idea that transitioning costs the Military a lot of money.?If TG people meet the eligibility to serve, and the costs of transitioning are marginally lower than President Trump anticipated, why bar them from their willingness to defend their country? Here lies the answer of transphobia of itself. While most American’s support things such as same-sex marriage, proponents against the idea have internalized transphobia and at times don’t even realize this. Transphobia, like homophobia, is the dislike of TG people, identified with people’s unwillingness to interact, communicate, or they might believe people being TG different than their “normal.” However, the acceptance of TG in the military is growing. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center, called “Where the Public Stands on Religious Liberty Vs. Nondiscrimination,” found that 90% of American’s know someone who is LGB. Excluding the T (transgender), most Americans do recognize LGBT people are a part of society and the acceptance of TG is growing. In comparison, a 2016 poll conducted for GLAAD (America’s leading LGBT media monitoring organization) done by Harris Research shows Americas service member’s views on TG’s acceptance in America, as well as LGB individuals. Their poll identifies that 1 in 5 millennials (ages 18-35) identify as some form of LGBT. In addition, almost half of the United States Military is under the age of 25.  This data shows that the acceptance of TG military service members is growing by the young members of the military, but the solution to meet a middle-ground between both sides of the argument is transparent.?After examining the information given, TG people should be able to serve in the military. Having the strongest military force available, I do not believe The United States should decline willing applicants their ability to serve. However, while I somewhat agree with the health implications of TG people, I’d like to entertain ideas that would be acceptable for both sides of the argument.  Recently, the pentagon gave their digression that addressed the issue to allow transgender people to serve in the military. As reported by Lolita Baldor, a journalist for the St. Louis Post in her article “Pentagon to Allow Transgender People to Enlist in Military” (2017), she identifies how most federal courts and the Pentagon are mostly against President Trump’s memorandum. The report explains that three federal courts have ruled against Trump’s memorandum, and the Pentagon gave their insight on the topic. Pulling a direct quote by Maj. David Eastburn a spokeman for the Pentagon in the article by Balder, Eastburn explains a possible solution to this would be “Transgender people receiving hormone therapy must be stable on their medication for 18 months.” (Balder, 1) I agree with this statement to appease both sides of the argument. While I believe TG people should always be able to serve their country, it is necessary to make sure their mental and physical health are fit to be able to serve. Although this hasn’t yet been implemented into law, I feel this would make sure the necessary wellbeing of TG people. Moving on, people who agree with President Trump’s “extreme medical cost” notion is one that should not be agreed with. After viewing the data mentioned previously, although transitioning is expensive, the impact on the Military’s health care budget is a small fraction on its total budget. Paired with this, the numbers of TG people in the service are a small fraction of the total people currently serving. TG people are ready and willing to serve, if so they desire, and should be able too.      Works Cited• “Accelerating Acceptance 2017.” GLAAD, 30 Mar. 2017, www.glaad.org/publications/accelerating-acceptance-2017. • Bernstein, Lenny. “Here’s How Sex Reassignment Surgery Works.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 9 Feb. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/02/09/heres-how-sex-reassignment-surgery-works/?utm_term=.150dc30f9ebd. • Mitchell, Travis. “Where the Public Stands on Religious Liberty vs. Nondiscrimination.” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, 28 Sept. 2016, www.pewforum.org/2016/09/28/where-the-public-stands-on-religious-liberty-vs-nondiscrimination/. • Mendelson, Will. “Caitlyn Jenner at Women of the Year Awards: Never Thought I’d Be Here.” Us Weekly, 6 Dec. 2017, www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/caitlyn-jenner-at-women-of-the-year-awards-never-thought-id-be-here-20151011/.  • Lopez, German. “Pentagon: Transgender People Can Enlist in the Military Starting January 1.” Vox, Vox, 11 Dec. 2017, www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/11/16763178/trump-transgender-military-ban-january.  • Schaefer, Agnes. “Impact of Transgender Personnel on Readiness and Health Care Costs in the U.S. Military Likely to Be Small.” RAND Corporation, 30 June 2017, www.rand.org/news/press/2016/06/30.html. • Diamond, Jeremy. “Trump Signs Directive Banning Transgender Military Recruits.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Aug. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/08/25/politics/trump-transgender-military/index.html. • Diamond, Jeremy. “Trump Signs Directive Banning Transgender Military Recruits.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Aug. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/08/25/politics/trump-transgender-military/index.html.  • Heing, Robin Marantz. “How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender.” National Geographic, 19 Dec. 2016, www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/01/how-science-helps-us-understand-gender-identity/.  • Baum, Jaul, and Stephanie Bill. “Supporting And Caring For Our Expansive Youth.” Hrc.org/Youth-Gender, 2016, assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/Gender-expansive-youth-report-final.pdf?_ga=2.211042517.1144351040.1517280924-1668844024.1517280924. • Ross, Allison. “The Invisible Army: Why the Military Needs to Resind Its Ban On Transgender Service Members.” Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, 2013: 188-215.  • Unknown Author. “Transgender Military Policy” Congressional Digest (2017): 301 • Balder, Lolita C. “Pentagon to Allow Tansgender People to Enlist in Military.” St. Louis Post (2017): 1-3 • Hill, Brandon J.; Bouris, Alida; Barnett, Joshua; Trey; Walker, Dayna. “Fit to Serve? Transgender Health?” New Rochelle (2016): 4-11 • Alford, Brandon; Lee, Shawna J. “Toward Complete Inclusion: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Military Service Members after Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Social Work. 2016: Vol. 61 Issue 3, p257-265. 9p? 

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