Military personnel who wish to dress as the opposite sex may now do so, according to an announcement from Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter.
Carter said, however, that new recruits would have to crossdress for at least 18 months prior to joining the military, presumably to avoid last-minute transitions from one mode of dress to another. Still, if a member of the armed forces wishes to swap genders while serving on active duty, that person may be able to do so “if a military medical provider determines it is necessary,” according to reports.
If any soldier would like to take a further step and undergo gender reassignment surgery, the Pentagon would cover the medical costs, Carter added.
“Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly,” Carter said. “They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”
According to the New York Times, there are “thousands” of transgender people in the military who have hitherto been “forced into an existence shrouded in secrecy to avoid being discharged.”
The new position came despite the objections of some at the highest ranks of the military, who have called transgenderism a social experiment that could potentially harm the military’s effectiveness in combat.
As of this October, a portion of the training hours of servicemen and women will be devoted to explaining how the new rules about transgenderism will affect them.
Along with the recent opening of combat roles to women, the permission of military crossdressing is “all about the same idea — that job assignments should be based on merit, not about gender identity or sexuality,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of a research institute called the Palm Center.
A report by the RAND Corporation, commissioned by Carter, alleged that if the Pentagon did not cover medical procedures including hormone therapy and surgery, transgender service members would probably not seek medical care and could have higher rates of substance abuse and suicide.
In point of fact, however, suicide rates are twenty times higher among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBTQ – affirming countries in the world.
The American College of Pediatricians recently issued a statement saying that a people who believe they are members of the opposite sex suffer from “an objective psychological problem” that “lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such.”
Such individuals suffer from gender dysphoria (GD), formerly listed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), the doctors noted, “a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.”
“The psychodynamic and social learning theories of GD/GID have never been disproved,” the statement said.
In his announcement Thursday, Carter did not say whether soldiers will require a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to crossdress, or whether the option will be open to all.