Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson and Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that they are not aware of any problems with transgender troops in their branches of service The Military Times reports:

The heads of the Navy and Marine Corps told lawmakers Thursday that they have received no reports of transgender devil dogs or sailors impacting unit cohesion in the ranks.

New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s cohesion question comes as President Trump’s ban on most transgender troops released last month is being challenged in at least four federal court cases.

Pentagon officials said last month that, due to those cases, transgender troops were unlikely to be immediately affected by the ban.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said “it’s steady as she goes” when it comes to the impact of the White House’s transgender troop policy on Navy readiness and personnel.

“By virtue of being a Navy sailor, we treat every one of those Navy sailors, regardless, with dignity and respect,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “That is warranted by wearing the uniform of the United States Navy. By virtue of that approach, I am not aware of any issues.”

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller also said he was not aware of any issues.

Neller said that 27 Marines currently serving in the Corps identify as transgender, offering one of the first concrete figures regarding the military’s transgender demographic.

Some thoughts:

My first thought reading this is whether there have truly not been any problems, or has there not been problems that have been sent up the chain of command?

It’s possible there has not been, but there are also very few transgender Marines for instance – 27 amongst a fighting force of approximately 195,000. The Pentagon released a report that said a 2016 survey found 8,980 identified as transgender approximately one percent of our fighting force. I have doubts about that figure since that would mean the transgender proportion compared to the entire military is higher than the national estimate that transgenders make up 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population reported by the Williams Institute. Also, identifying as a transgender does not mean they have come out as one.

I also wonder where these particular Marines and sailors are assigned? That would make a big difference. For instance, a stateside post is not the same as being in combat with the stress that entails with a group that already has a high rate of suicide. The Pentagon report that suggested a repeal of “Carter policy” allowing openly transgendered soldiers and those diagnosed with gender dysphoria discussed the mental health problems that exist:

Transgender persons with gender dysphoria suffer from high rates of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. High rates of suicide ideation, attempts, and completion among people who are transgender are also well documented in the medical literature, with lifetime rates of suicide attempts reported to be as high as 41 % (compared to 4.6% for the general population). According to a 20I5 survey, the rate skyrockets to 57% for transgender individuals without a supportive family. The Department is concerned that the stresses of military life, including basic training, frequent moves, deployment to war zones and austere environments, and the relentless physical demands, will be additional contributors to suicide behavior in people with gender dysphoria. In fact, there is recent evidence that military service can be a contributor to suicidal thoughts.

The military has always had standards and serving in the military is not a right.

There may or may not be problems right now, but will there be in the future if President Trump’s reversal of the Obama Administration policy is not fully implemented? I have no doubt, especially if these same individuals see combat.

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