No matter where you stand in the transgender debate, when it comes to serving in our military, a soldier’s only focus should be the defense of our country. Unfortunately, critics are making President Trump’s announcement last month that the U.S. will “not allow or accept” transgender individuals to serve in our military out to be an unfair indictment on those people.
They miss the point that the ban has nothing to do with approving or disapproving of the transgender lifestyle, it’s merely a way of ensuring that our country’s soldiers are constantly ready for battle.
One transgender military veteran has come out with the truth about what it means to serve in the military and why President Trump’s ban is not such a bad idea.
In an opinion piece titled, “This debate is about gender dysphoria, not transgender military service,” which ran in MercatorNet last week, Jamie Shupe, an Army retiree, explains that as the first person in the United States to have their sex legally declared as non-binary, “I have a vested interest in the outcome of the transgender military service ban.”
A study carried out by the RAND Corporation in 2016 found that allowing transgender people to serve openly would “cost little and have no significant impact on unit readiness.”
The study estimated that 2,450 active-duty members were transgender and predicted that around 65 would seek to transition each year. It estimated that the cost to the Pentagon of those procedures would be $2.9 million to $4.2 million a year.
The study predicted that service members would not seek to transition were the procedures not covered by the Pentagon and that they would likely have higher rates of substance abuse and suicide as a result, which proves Shupe’s point: the debate really is about gender dysphoria.
Shupe served before the Obama administration allowed openly transgender military members to not only serve but even offered to pay for their medical costs. In fact, back in the day, transgender military service was banned. “I spent 18 years of torment fearing that I might not get my retirement check and the subsequent military benefits,” recalled Shupe, adding, that military retirement benefits provide for her health care.
“But as a former senior enlisted military leader, I also have a duty to speak the truth about the problems with transgender military service,” states Shupe, who feels that anyone who agrees with President Trump on this will not be heard in most media outlets.
“When Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., pointed out that a service member becomes non-deployable for 210 to 238 workdays, that doesn’t make her a bigot,” pointed out Shupe, noting that it’s really all about “being a good custodian of the nation’s tax dollars and making sure our military is combat-ready at all times. Being combat-ready means that as many people as possible are deployable on a moment’s notice. Hartzler would be derelict in her duties as a member of the House Armed Services Committee if we’re not.”
Speaking as a former platoon sergeant, Shupe stated, “When a service member becomes non-deployable because of gender transition-related surgery, they’re going to not only not be on duty in some cases, but they will also be on light duty for most or all of that time.
“They’ll have a medical profile against either performing their duties, at all, or one that limits them. Commanders are forced to respect these limitations. But the health and fighting capabilities of a military unit are determined by how many of its members are deployable. It’s that serious.”
She went on to point out that the rigors of military service are so tough that service members can only serve one four-year enlistment, and not everyone is cut out for the job, especially if their medical condition makes them incapable of being ready to serve at a moment’s notice. And this is where the gender dysphoria issue arises.
“Just because someone is transgender doesn’t make them unfit to serve,” explains Shupe, noting that not all transgender individuals suffer from a condition known as gender dysphoria.
“But if a service member is affected by gender dysphoria, it can seriously affect their duty performance. While they’re obsessing about their gender identity, they don’t have their head in the game. Pointing this out doesn’t make anyone a bigot, transphobic, or a bad person,” Shupe adds, noting that untreated, this well-documented mental disorder will cause anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
“The best-known treatments for gender dysphoria are hormone replacement therapy and a variety of surgeries. But these treatments are not as harmless as the American public has been led to believe,” states Shupe, noting that even she has had issues with swollen legs and feet after being prescribed too much estrogen by a doctor at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon.
“Transgender military service in harsh overseas environments is simply not possible for all transgender people,” says Shupe, noting, “I served. And I didn’t die, even though I didn’t get any trans health care. I’ve never tried to commit suicide. That’s because I was psychologically tough and overcame gender dysphoria.
“I believe that if I’m capable of military service without medical treatment, then I should be deemed fit to serve. As a member of the most unemployed minority group in the nation, I desperately need that option,” she adds.
But there’s another issue that no one talks about, and that’s the unfairness that women who used to be men pose to the military career advancement opportunities of women who were actually born that way.
Shupe says that when she served in the Army, she was an Equal Opportunity Representative, and discrimination against female service members and minorities was and likely still is a genuine issue.
“So, as a former Equal Opportunity Representative, I have to point out the unfairness to the biological females in the military because of transgender policies. That unfairness stems from the competitive edge that biological males have over biological females,” explains Shupe, pointing out that the military’s promotion system relies on physical ability.
“The American public has been sold on the ideology that simply switching the hormone operating fuels in the two sexes makes them equal when it comes to sports, fitness, or biology. This is false,” states Shupe, pointing out biological facts: “The pelvis of biological males is superior to the bone structure in females when it comes to marching or running because the pelvis of a female was designed by nature to be wider for childbirth. Likewise, the lungs of biological males are larger.”
Shupe admits, “Because of my male biology, throughout my entire military career, no female soldier ever finished before me in the two-mile run in our physical fitness tests.”
And here’s where it gets supremely unfair: “When a biological male is switched to being a female because of their gender identity and uses their natural biological capabilities to score high on a physical fitness test, that affects the military promotion system,” says Shupe, adding, “It’s unfair to service members who are biologically female. And if I were still on active duty, I’d file a complaint. As a former Equal Opportunity Representative, I’m not afraid to point this out.
“As we move forward in our battle over transgender military service, it’s important that we don’t harm women. Because what works and applies in civilian employment settings is often irrelevant to military life.”
Shupe goes on to note, “Civilians aren’t forced to pass physical fitness tests as a condition of continued employment. Their physical fitness capabilities don’t decide whether they will be promoted. In civilian settings, the only fight or disagreement over integrating transgender people into the workforce is usually about bathrooms.”
Calling gender dysphoria “the business end of transgenderism,” Shupe reiterates, “It’s one of the main reasons that transgender people suffer from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. It’s the reason that transgender inmates have castrated themselves in correctional settings. It’s the reason that some trans people describe themselves as being born in the wrong body and seek surgical correction.
“It’s a mistake to ignore how severe gender dysphoria can handicap people in the military. We cannot turn a blind eye to complication rates from these surgeries and hormonal treatments.”
As a former senior enlisted leader and as a non-binary transgender person, Shupe states, “my allegiance is not to the trans community. My allegiance is to the defense of this nation. That didn’t change when I lived as a transgender woman for three and a half years. That’s why I am speaking out. Because not every member of the transgender community is fit for military service. Nor is every male or every female, for that matter.”
Shupe does say that President Trump should not put a “blanket ban” on transgender military service, though, because not every trans service member is impacted by gender dysphoria.
“Those surgical and hormonal treatments for gender dysphoria have problems and complications. The unfair effects of transitioning people on the military promotion system are real and discriminatory against biological females. Time away from duty and being non-deployable are indefensible,” says Shupe, concluding, “Pointing these things out doesn’t make me transphobic. Nor does it make me a traitor to my own community.
“I am speaking out because the U.S. Army trained me to tell the truth. And telling the truth is the only way America can win its battles.”