Should transgender people be allowed to openly serve in the military?

Johnson City Press • Feb 4, 2019 at 12:00 AM

It’s in the country’s best interest to ensure it has “the most lethal and combat-effective fighting force in the world,” according to a Pentagon spokeswoman who corresponded with Johnson City Press staff writer W. Kenneth Medley II last week.

For the current administration, many transgender people — those diagnosed with gender dysphoria, those who require or have undergone a medical gender transition within 36 months before enlisting and those who refuse to serve under the gender socially assigned to their biological sex — threaten the effectiveness of America’s military.

Though the Department of Defense’s proposed policy governing the military service of transgender individuals is nearly a year old, a 5-4 order by the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 22 removed injunctions barring the implementation of the policy while lower courts consider legal challenges.

An injunction is still in place from a Maryland federal judge, but it is expected to be paused because of the high court’s decision.

The recent developments in the legal cases re-ignited national discussions about the Pentagon’s assertions that gender dysphoria makes men and women unfit for duty. Gender dysphoria is a diagnosable condition causing distress for people whose sex, the biological characteristics of their bodies, do not match with the gender, their social and cultural characteristics, with which they identify.

Transgender people and their advocates say barring nearly everyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria from service is functionally discrimination against transgender individuals. They say the definition of gender dysphoria is too broad, and doesn’t necessarily mean the person diagnosed with it is suffering from a debilitating mental illness.

It’s an important issue to the 8,980 service members who identified as transgender as of 2016, and it’s an important issue to many other Americans.

That’s why we want to hear from you. Should transgender people be allowed to openly serve in the military? Should gender dysphoria be a disqualifier for service? How should gender dysphoria be defined?

Send your correspondence to [email protected]. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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