December 8, 2017

Former Service Secretaries Refute Assertion That Military Is Not Ready For Transgender Recruits

New Policy Memo Describes Full Preparations Already in Place

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A distinguished panel of current and former military professors has challenged claims by the Trump Administration that the Pentagon is not ready to admit transgender applicants. The administration made the argument in a declaration filed in federal court seeking to delay the court’s order that the Pentagon allow transgender candidates to apply for enlistment by January 1, 2018.

 The group of seven professors published a policy memo today explaining that preparations for lifting the enlistment ban have been in place since the presidential transition, and refuting the administration’s assertion that transgender applicants will be difficult to evaluate.

The declaration, say the professors, “rewrites the history of transgender military policy and distorts the evidence” about transgender service, including recent policy and training developments. “The declaration’s assertion that transgender applicants for military service are uniquely complicated and difficult to evaluate is incorrect,” states the memo, as is its claim that implementing the court’s order will impose “extraordinary burdens” that the military “would not be adequately and properly prepared” to meet. The professors show that the military has already completed most of the necessary preparations for the lifting of the ban.

The memo’s release follows recent statements by former senior Pentagon officials confirming the readiness of all services to accept transgender applicants. All of these officials, who include Brad Carson, former acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness; Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy; Deborah Lee James, former Secretary of the Air Force; and Eric Fanning, former Secretary of the Army, worked closely on the development and implementation of the military’s transgender policy. In separate statements this week, all stated that each of the military services worked through the end of 2016 to educate and train Pentagon personnel in how to process transgender recruits.

Sec. Mabus commented that, “allowing transgender candidates to apply for military service was not a complicated process to begin with, especially in light of the highly complex strategic, technical, personnel and medical issues that we address day in and day out. The services had already completed almost all of the necessary preparation for the lifting of the enlistment ban when we left office almost a year ago.” He added that, “it’s not the lifting of the ban that compromises readiness, good order and discipline. It’s the Trump administration’s whipsawing of military policy and its treatment of loyal transgender Americans as second-class citizens that are the true sources of disruption.”

“When I left office in January,” Sec. James commented, “we had already done most of the work to prepare for this policy change, which is no more complicated than the myriad of issues that the military manages successfully every day. It is time to get on with it.”

Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said, “These claims about inadequate readiness are incorrect. They ignore and denigrate the hard work that service members and civilians have been doing since July 2016 to prepare for the lifting of the enlistment ban. As the military professors explain in today’s policy memo, this is not a complicated issue.”

The professors who co-authored the memo are:

Alan Bishop, PhD*
Former Professor, U.S. Military Academy

Martin L. Cook, PhD*
Professor Emeritus, U.S. Naval War College

Mark J. Eitelberg, PhD*
Professor Emeritus, Naval Postgraduate School

George R. Lucas, PhD*
Professor, Naval Postgraduate School

Mark V. Mayer
U.S. Air Force Academy, Transgender Veteran

Tammy S. Schultz, PhD*
Professor, U.S. Marine Corps War College

Marc J. Ventresca, PhD*
Former Research Associate Professor,
Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School

* The views and findings expressed here are those of the authors and should not be assumed to reflect an official policy, position or decision of the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Marine Corps War College, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School or the U.S. Government.