Pentagon to defy Trump on transgender enlistment ban next year

The Associated Press is reporting that the military will begin allowing transgender applicants to enlist beginning on January 1st despite an order from the Commander in Chief forbidding it. This comes at a time when the ban is being challenged in court and has already been shot down twice, contrary to all common sense. The real question now is whether the President himself signed off on this change or if the military is simply going rogue.

The Pentagon is allowing transgender people to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, despite President Donald Trump’s opposition.

The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the issue, and the difficult hurdles the federal government would have to cross to enforce Trump’s demand to ban transgender individuals from the military. Two federal courts already have ruled against the ban. Potential transgender recruits will have to overcome a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, though difficult, for them to join the armed services.

Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, says the enlistment of transgender recruits will start Jan. 1 and go on amid the legal battles. The Defense Department also is studying the issue.

Eastburn told The Associated Press on Monday that the new guidelines mean the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition and those who underwent reconstruction. But such recruits are allowed in if a medical provider certifies they’ve been clinically stable in the preferred sex for 18 months and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.

These guidelines, seemingly tailored to satisfy judges who have bought into the social justice warrior movement, are curious indeed. They begin by stating that anyone with gender dysphoria can be disqualified, but then turn around and offer possible exemptions for those who “have been stable in their preferred gender” for at least eighteen months. How anyone is supposed to determine what “stable” means in this context remains a mystery.

The World Health Organization still classifies gender dysphoria as a mental disorder, as do many prominent physicians such as some on staff at Johns Hopkins. In 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, unfortunately, muddied the waters by reclassifying the condition and altering the treatment approach while not eliminating it from the list entirely. This has led to even more confusion.

But under any commonly held sense of understanding, we’re talking about people who have a mental disorder. Perhaps not a dangerous one in most cases (except to themselves, as suicide rates among sufferers are far above those for the general population) but it’s still one of any number of conditions which have been used as a disqualifier for entering the stressful environment of military life. The American College of Pediatricians continues to warn the public about the dangers associated with this disorder. It is simply amazing that the courts would choose to interfere with the military when making such recruiting decisions.

The final question is the one I asked at the top. Did the President think that this was a losing battle in court and just allow the military to head off in this direction? Or are they disobeying a direct order? If the latter, I suspect we’ll be hearing about it very soon. If it’s the former, the President may not be in a mood to talk about it for a while.