The Supreme Court Just Ended My Military Career

From The New York Times:

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.

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2 Responses to “The Supreme Court Just Ended My Military Career”

  1. edith pilkington Says:

    “Nearly a third (32 percent) of all young people have health problems – other than their weight – that will keep them from serving. Many are disqualified from serving for asthma, eyesight or hearing problems, mental health issues, or recent treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”

    Click to access MR-Ready-Willing-Unable.pdf

    Note: “mental issues”

    Jennifer Levi of GLAD is the litigator arguing against the military ban?

    She continually argued using the discredited concept of “Gender Identity Disorder”, quoting people like Blanchard, Green and others that transsexualism was a mental disorder, in the U S Tax Court case, very shortly before the term was taken out of the DSM. How is the Trump administration not going to use tidbits like this from the U S tax court case to uphold their position:

    “. . . Petitioner argues that GID is a “disease” for purposes of section
    213 because it is well recognized in mainstream psychiatric
    literature, including the DSM-IV-TR, as a legitimate mental illness[quotes Blanchard]

    arguing further(there are many quotes like these throughout the tax court decision.)

    “. . . Moreover, Dr. Brown[arguing for the litigant/”petitioner”], O’Donnabhain?] observes, normal genetic males generally do not desire to have their penis and testicles removed. Such a desire is regarded in the
    psychiatric literature as a likely manifestation of psychosis
    (usually schizophrenia) or GID, followed by a range of other less
    likely explanations.

    . . . Notably, the regulations, mirroring the language of the Finance
    Committee report, treat “disease” as used in the statute as
    synonymous with “. . . mental defect or illness.”

    Sorry about adding my own 2 cents but the comments are closed at the Times.

    • edith pilkington Says:

      I think most states have similar laws. Below is Connecticut’s, detailing how confidentiality is to be maintained:

      “A certified copy of the amended certificate shall be sent either through mail or electronically to all local registrars of vital statistics who have the original certificate on file, along with a letter informing the local registrar that the original birth certificate has been amended due to gender change, and instructing the local registrar to place the original birth certificate in a confidential file. Access to confidential files for gender change amendments main- tained at the State and local vital records offices, and . . .

      >>>the information contained within such files, shall be restricted to the registrar, designated staff members, or to other parties upon an order of a court of competent jurisdiciton.”<<<

      North Carolina will issue new birth certificates to those who have undergone triadic sex reassignment. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation surrounding this issue.

      I object to Dr. Brown being thought of as someone whose viewpoints should be written into federal law. He is the military psychiatrist whose testimony was relied upon in the Tax Court decision who is now being relied upon to provide testimony in the transgender military ban court challenges. I've read the O'Donnabnain v. U S Tax Court decision(many times) where the term "mental defect" is used over and over again, and used as justification for allowance for a medical tax deduction. I have also read Dr. Brown's testimony in the recent challenges to Trump's transgender military ban provided by both GLAD and the NCLR. Dr. Brown has changed his tune significantly, referring to the changes in the DSM-V to make his case in the transgender military ban challenge. He now insists, contrary to his testimony in the U S Tax Court case, that "GD"(gender dysphoria) is not the "mental disorder" he testified it was in the U S Tax Court case. His testimony in these various cases is contradictory, unless by using the term Gender Dysphoria, he still means Gender Identity Disorder, which it seems he does.

      The problem is that Dr. Brown is a psychiatrist. His understanding of transsexualism exists primarily on the mental plain. People who change sex are considered by WPATH clinicians to simply have a more severe "condition" than those who are transgender and don't consider transsexual medical treatments necessary. Dr Brown was a WPATH board member for years. His theses involve the elision of the obvious sex changing body transformations post transsexual people go through, the obvious implications, and, also, very significantly, their very different medical needs.

      I'm going to provide the following video to point out a few things. He repeatedly mentions North Carolina's HB2. In North Carolina post transsexual people can have their birth certificates changed. I think it is somewhere over half the states that will issue new certificates without any mention of sex change. Conflating the situation of post transsexual people with those he calls transgender he implies what is not true. The overturned HB2 merely requires the sex on one's birth certificate state that it aligns with a restroom gender designation.(I want to state clearly, now, that I in no way support what was done by the bigots in the North Carolina legislature. I just want to point out the disingenuousness of Dr. Brown's arguments) It you listen closely to what he says throughout the video, he conflates post transsexual people with a transgender population that has very little in common with the experience and needs of the post transexual population. This is what WPATH has been attempting to do beginning with the tenure of Walter Bockting, under the influence of people such as Richard Eakins. 33:27 into the video Dr. Brown goes into how negotiations with electronic medical records(EMR) IT companies, and his work group of WPATH members like him, a few people from the UCSF and the Fenway Institute decided over the course of four years to set up a system whereby the vast majority of state legislative and administrative history be totally disregarded in order to cater to the wishes of researchers who want to pry into private lives, and financial interests of medical insurance companies, and EMR IT companies, and drug companies. These changes, which require staff in clinics obtain birth assignment information that is protected information under the laws of many states, and which seem to be in violation of HIPAA laws. See video @ 33:27 onward for the public policy recommendation which involves documenting patients in a way that is in violation of state health department regulations across the country. I really haven't read anything about these policy changes in the LGBT media but Wired Magazine also has a clear account. From this video I was able to ascertain the date of the roll out of this public policy which was January, 2017:

      There is so much to critique here.

      I am pretty sure what I write is not well received here. There is no question in my mind what is going on needs to be seriously critiqued by anyone worried about accessing medical care who doesn't want to be subject of endless debates about their status as a human being and what their sex is or is not. One of the big problems involving the precedent setting views of so called experts such as Dr. Brown is the terminology they embed in language with terms such as "transgender status" which reads "transgender stasis" to me – consignment to a Twilight Zone existence where one's private life is opened like a public document subject to endless debate.

      This is a very complicated matter. I don't expect people to be receptive to what I have to say. I am a nobody but I will copy and paste what I have just written. I've already done a bit of activism on my own part with my medical provider. What I copy and paste will go into my Notes for the Rhode Island Health Department as a complaint. I am required to attempt to rectify these problems with the local entity before I go to the ACLU on these matters. I expect a lot of resistance from them, too. Regardless, I know what is happening here just is not right. I am not afraid to say so.

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