US Military's Transgender Ban Has No Medical Basis, AMA Says

JUNE 08, 2015
Jared Kaltwasser
SoldiersThe American Medical Association on Monday said there’s no medical reason transgender people should not be allowed to serve in the US military.

The AMA passed a resolution calling the military’s regulations “out of date” and out of step with the medical consensus. The association also said transgender service members ought to receive the same medical benefits afforded other soldiers.  

“It’s a positive step that the AMA has recognized that transgender men and women have the same ability to function in high-stress military environments as any other qualified service members,” said Retired Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman, the former Coast Guard Director of Health and Safety, in testimony prior to the vote.

The US Department of Defense is currently in the process of reviewing its policies on transgender service members. President Barack Obama in 2011 repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which required gay and lesbian military members to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or risk discharge from the service.
The AMA voted to oppose that policy back in 2009.

The Williams Institute, a think tank that researches sexuality issues, estimates that about 15,500 US military members are transgender, though existing military policy states that transgender Americans are “unfit for service.”

Monday’s vote won wide support from gay, lesbian, and transgender activists, as well as from medical groups.

Four former US surgeons general released a statement in support of the move prior to the vote.

“We agree with the proposed American Medical Association resolution that there is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from military service,” the doctors said, in a joint statement.

Another group that researches sexuality, the Palm Center, said the AMA is part of a wave of support for transgender military members.

“The military’s transgender exclusion policy is sustained by claims that transgender individuals require more burdensome medical care in the field than other members of the military,” said Aaron Belkin, a physician and the center’s director. “Citing mounting research to the contrary, the AMA has now joined a chorus of expert voices showing this assertion to be false.”

The resolution was passed on a voice vote as part of a consent agenda.



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