President Biden’s reversal of Trump’s transgender military service ban fuels Tony Perkins’ unhealthy obsession with LGBTQ people.
I have two missives from Family Research Council — an anti-LGBTQ hate group — pertaining to President Biden’s reversal of Trump’s transgender troop ban.
It is a virtual certainty that Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins is less interested in defense posture than a) criticizing President Biden and; b) defending scripture.
The first email consists of a press release titled: President Biden Diverts Military Away from its Mission, Forces it to Pay for Gender Reassignment Surgeries. There is no link to the statement online.
To begin with there is no such thing as “gender reassignment surgery.” Were it possible to “reassign” gender there would likely be no transgender people. Then there is the hyperbole. There are about 1.3 million active duty personnel.
Of that 1.3 million, fewer than 9,000 persons were identified a couple of years ago as transgender. I ran out of fingers and toes but those trans troops seem to be less than 0.7% of the total force.
According to the text:
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a Marine veteran, criticized President Biden’s swift reinstatement of President Obama’s costly transgender military policy…
I’ll spare you the irrational rationale which is a recitation of familiar right wing Christian talking points. Again, this is mostly about a literalist defense of scripture. Moreover, Perkins is drooling over the possibility of Trump running against Biden in 2024. Trump was an awful president but he made Perkins feel important. Fuck the country. Tony’s ego is more important.
Included in the text is this:
The Department of Defense reported that medical costs for service members with “gender dysphoria” were three times higher than for other service members before the Trump administration repealed the Obama era rule.
That is not what the report said. I will get to the report shortly but, in this regard, what the report says is that the costs of transgender care increased 300% more than care for troops without gender dysphoria. According to a footnote, the basis for that is “Minutes, Transgender Review (Nov. 2, 2017).”
Aside from misrepresenting what the number means we do not know what population of troops this pertains to. More importantly, once these interventions were approved for military personnel, the total and total cost were certain to increase. Not taken into consideration was the fact that these would likely level off at the observed level meaning that per capita increases would then be nominal.
With respect to the report, the chronology is important. Trump reinstated the ban in August of 2017; pandering to the Christian right which was an important part of his base. The Mattis memo and the report were issued in February, 2018.
It would appear that the purpose for the report was to justify a decision that had already been made.
But it is not just the chronology that is indicative of motivation. The report itself includes standard right wing Christian transphobic talking points.
For example, it includes the fact that the “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (CMS) declined to issue a new “national coverage determination” (NCD) that would mandate coverage for such surgery under Medicare …” Are there many people over 65 years of age on active duty?
Another example of standard Christainist fare is the use of that infamous “Swedish study” to hyperbolize comorbidity and suicide rates. The report fails to mention that some of the subjects of the 2011 study in question had gender confirmation surgery as far back as 1973. (The most recent subjects had surgery in 2003; 18 years ago.)
Yeah, people who had surgery nearly a half-century ago had issues with minority stress. Transgender people are still victimized but society is far more accepting now than then.
These two talking points are prevalent in diatribes from Ryan T. Anderson and polemics from FRC’s Peter Sprigg. Both are religious fanatics. So is Michelle Cretella who tried to exploit the Medicare/Medicaid Services determination.
When a military study committee regurgitates rhetoric from the religious right, that’s a problem.
Some of the reactions to Trump’s ban:
- American Psychological Association: “…alarmed by the administration’s misuse of
psychological science to stigmatize transgender Americans and justify limiting their ability to serve
in uniform and access medically necessary health care.”
- American Psychiatric Association: “reiterated its strong opposition to a ban of
transgender Americans from the U.S. military.”
- 26 retired General and Flag Officers: “There is simply no reason to single out brave
transgender Americans who can meet military standards and deny them the ability to serve.”
The second email links to a post at FRC’s website
Monday, Tony Perkins authored: Biden: Military’s ‘Special Operations’ to Include Gender Surgery. Most of Perkins’ jeremiad is not about trans troops. He is intent on smearing the president in every conceivable way.
On transgender service:
The title, alone, is misleading because the overwhelming majority (over 90%) of transgender people do not have gender confirmation surgery. Sure, some of that is due to the cost of the procedure. Even were that not the case, there are not enough transgender troops to create much expense.
Our defense budget is about $722 billion. RAND Corporation estimate about $8 million might be spent on transgender care. It’s less than the military spends on Viagra. It is statistically insignificant.
Unfortunately for our troops, the new president doesn’t seem to care how his social experimentation affects our actual warfighting. Unlike Donald Trump, who insisted the military study the comprehensive effects of such a policy, Joe Biden — from the so-called “party of science” — has not asked for any updated information. In fact, he claimed this morning that opening the doors to transgenderism “does not have any meaningful negative impact on the Armed Forces” and “minimal” effect on “readiness and health care costs.”
Trump did not “insist the military study the … effects.” The ban came first. The seriously compromised study (see above) came later. Biden is correct. The overall conclusion of the nonpartisan, disinterested RAND Corporation assessment was that transgender service is a net positive.
Mattis’ study committee was not disinterested. The simplest, easiest thing to do with the least amount of risk was to sustain Trump’s decision.
I was a contractor for a number of years overseas dealing primarily with military officers (mostly O4 to O6). They are a fine group of people. I got to know many of them, including my duplicate bridge partner, an Army major who was a friend. They will risk their lives in battle but they are risk averse to anything that could affect their careers.
Riding that hobby horse:
That’s interesting, since the findings of then-Secretary James Mattis in 2018 were that the Obama administration had to ignore stacks of research to justify the change. After wading through 21 months of actual fallout, the DOD believed that introducing this type of gender chaos into the military presented a “considerable risk” to its “effectiveness and lethality.” The memo does a great job dismantling the flawed and outdated RAND study that both Presidents Obama and Biden have used to prop up their decision.
In point of fact, almost nothing in the report is based on experience. The committee was invested in standard conservative Christian rhetoric. The clear intent was to support a decision that had already been made.
Perkins is confused when he refers to a memo. There is a cover memo from Mattis and then the underlying report which Mattis did not author. The report attempts to discredit the RAND Corporation study. For example:
[The RAND report did not] meaningfully address the significant mental health problems that accompany gender dysphoria … and the scope of the scientific uncertainty regarding whether gender transition treatment fully remedies those problems.
As you can see, the goal posts were moved from being able to reliably and responsibly serve to complete relief from gender dysphoria through transitioning. The only thing that matters is fitness to serve. There are any number of cisgender personnel who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders. They ably and faithfully serve the nation.
Furthermore, the report never cites data gathered from actual transgender service.
As many as 30% of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD (estimates vary from 11% to 30%). Some of those people continue to serve. There is no rationale for transgender people to meet a higher standard other than religious disapproval.
After almost two years of seeing the real impact on troops, the DOD argued that RAND had “mischaracterize[d] or overstate[d] the reports on which it rests its conclusions” (p. 39). “In fact,” officials write, “the RAND study itself repeatedly emphasized the lack of quality data on these issues and qualified its conclusions accordingly” — a fact the Biden administration hasn’t bothered to mention.
The report does not comprehensively address the impact on troops and they said the exact same thing when gay people were allowed to openly serve. The report does not cite any hard facts from actual experience with transgender service.
The report does say that RAND Corp. mischaracterized or overstated reports. The intent is to discredit things like the successful service of transgender people in the Israel Defense Force.
And, yes, RAND did qualify some of its conclusions. So what? Again, the intent of this report was to justify a decision that had already been made.
Back in 2016, when Barack Obama first injected gender confusion into the ranks, the result was absolute chaos. Instead of making our troops more effective, efficient, and deadly, commanders were retrofitting bathrooms, ordering sensitivity trainings, rewriting health care policies, and worrying how to combat the low morale. At the time, FRC’s Peter Sprigg warned that it could cost taxpayers up to $3.7 billion over the next 10 years for medical costs and lost deployment time …
“Gender confusion” is religious-speak and fewer than 9,000 personnel did not create “absolute chaos.” Perkins is full of crap. Sprigg did in fact say that the bill would be $3.7 billion over ten years.
Did 9,000 troops cost an additional $740 million over two years? That would be $83,000 each. Mr. Sprigg is reliably dishonest. Furthermore, what did it cost to recruit and train their replacements? You can be sure that Sprigg did not include that in his baseless estimate.
Even after Donald Trump overturned the policy, taxpayers were forced to make a huge investment in the Left’s social petri dish, sinking well over $8 million into treatments, hormones, and surgeries for the handful of transgender-identifying troops who were grandfathered in.
That was $8 million over two years. The military health system costs taxpayers about $50 billion per year. It’s more than a bit silly to obsess over what amounts to 0.008% per year. Particularly in the vacuum of not considering the contributions of those same troops. 20 of those who received medical care are officers; majors/lieutenant commanders and above.
FRC’s Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin could only shake his head at the reversal. “This has everything to do with President Biden’s LGBT agenda — and nothing to do with military readiness, which should always be the Pentagon’s first consideration.”
Well, Boykin just happens to be batshit crazy. A perfect fit for Family Research Council.
Circa 2010, Tony Perkins claimed that allowing gays to serve in the military would lead to rampant sexual assault and lead to a military that was only good for staging parades. Perkins and Sprigg have been at it again. There is no evidence to support their claims from 11 years ago.
There is a reason that Family Research Council is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FRC devotes a considerable amount of time, expense and energy into denigrating LGBTQ people using flawed analyses and unrepresentative anecdotes.
Lost in the bigotry is perspective. For the years 2015 to 2019 the military spent $1.34 billion on recruiting and advertising. Transgender personnel want to serve. They are willing to risk their lives for their country. There aren’t that many of them. What is the “big fucking deal?” (Joe Biden, 2010; “This is a big fucking deal” regarding passage of the Affordable Care Act whispered to President Obama and caught on a live mic.)