The Supreme Court Just Ended My Military Career

From The New York Times:   https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/opinion/transgender-ban-supreme-court-military.html

The justices chose not to protect the rights of transgender patriots like me.

Brynn Tannehill<
Jan. 22, 2019

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the Trump administration could reinstate its policy barring most transgender people from serving in the military while several cases challenging the policy are being decided. The decision was both a devastating blow to me personally, and a disturbing sign of what is to come for transgender people in the United States.

I graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1997, and was on active duty for over a decade. When I began transitioning in 2010, I transferred from the Naval Reserves, which I had joined in 2008, to the Individual Ready Reserves, an administrative status that allows service members to deal with medical issues before returning to full duty. By spring 2012, I had resolved the “issues” at my own expense, and was ready to return to full duty — in my case, as a Navy helicopter pilot.

The problem was that at the time, the military’s medical regulations prohibited transgender people from serving. I then set off on years of volunteer work on my own time researching transgender military issues. This included educational outreach, research, policy development and coordinating with the Pentagon to build an evidence-based standard for transgender service, based on the lessons learned from the other 18 countries that allow transgender people to serve.

In 2015, the Department of Defense stopped discharging people for being transgender and began the open and transparent process of researching how to institute an inclusive policy. This included an assessment of the costs, in terms of both money and readiness, of integrating transgender troops. Researchers found both impacts to be negligible.

By 2016, a policy was in place for transgender people already serving. Two years later, the military put in place a process for new recruits, officer candidates and people on inactive status like myself. The day after that, I contacted my recruiter to begin the process of rejoining the military.

Over the past year, I’ve had countless medical and psychological exams in my quest to return to the job I was trained to do: flying Blackhawk helicopters. This involved a lot of time off work and considerable travel, all at my own expense. At every turn, the people examining me reached the same conclusion: I was “aeromedically adapted” — fit to fly — and able to return to the service. There was, finally, a chance that I might be able finish my career after 16 good years of service.

I was hoping against hope, throughout this process, that I’d be able to join my friends who had fought alongside me for the right to serve openly. Nearly every week I would see pictures of them in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. It gave me a thrill in December to see a picture of four of them together at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. One was an airborne ranger, and one was Special Forces.
All of this makes the administration’s dogged attempt to undo everything achieved over the last few years even more baffling. The ban was developed in secret, without the sort of careful study that went into the policy it reversed. It does not reflect any current medical understanding of transgender people, and it has been denounced by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/opinion/transgender-ban-supreme-court-military.html