Doctors slam Trump’s trans military ban for rejecting science

"There is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from military service. "

CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The largest doctors’ association in the country is lambasting Defense Secretary James Mattis for signing off on a ban on transgender people serving in the military.

The CEO of the American Medical Association (AMA), James Madara, sent Mattis a letter this week — published by Politico — decrying the conclusion that a “history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria” is disqualifying for military service.

“We believe there is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude transgender individuals from military service,” Madara writes in the letter. He goes onto to say that the memo to President Trump laying out the justifications for the ban “mischaracterized and rejected the wide body of peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of transgender medical care.”

That breadth of research led the AMA to approve a resolution in 2015 supporting trans military service.

The letter also reiterates the AMA’s support for all insurance plans covering the treatment of gender dysphoria, including the military’s. “The financial cost is negligible and a rounding error in the defense budget,” Madara writes. “It should not be used as a reason to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country. We should be honoring their service.”


Madara’s letter follows similar responses from the heads of both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. The latter group specifically said it was “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.”

With the nation’s leading professional medical organizations rejecting the rationale for banning trans military service, it seems increasingly unlikely that the memo was informed by anyone who isn’t biased against transgender people.

As ThinkProgress and Slate have reported, Vice President Pence convened his own “working group” consisting of anti-LGBTQ activists, whose recommendations regarding trans military service were forwarded instead of the findings from Mattis’ military committee. That helps explains why the distorted research the medical organizations have criticized directly parallels the talking points of anti-LGBTQ groups like the Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council — which were both represented in Pence’s working group.

Mattis has been mum about the ban, which is still not in effect thanks to various court injunctions. In one telling statement, however, the Pentagon acknowledged that the White House coordinated on drafting the ban.