New policies expand transgender procedures to the service academies, allow gender transitions while on-duty, and mandate group shower facility use by both biological sexes if certain administrative requirements are met. Oh, and military commanders are responsible to “not accommodate biases against transgender individuals”
As RealClear Defense recently reported, on December 20, 2022 the Department of Defense issued an update to DOD Instruction 1300.28, entitled “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members,” which “expanded woke transgender mandates in significant ways.”
The article compares the original instruction, issued in the waning days of the Obama administration in October 2016, to the current expansion, with the aide of a study and summary compiled by the Center for Military Readiness (CMR).
Significantly, the CMR study and summary explain the significance of the changes, which fall into six major areas, and which were issued “without public debate”:
1. Changes official DoD vocabulary to reflect transgender ideology;
2. Specifically involves the military service academies and ROTC (contract) programs;
3. Holds commanders directly responsible for all alleged “biases against transgender individuals;”
4. Allows cross-dressing and other “transitioning” behaviors on-base as well as off-base;
5. Allows “de-transition” procedures if treatments do not resolve gender dysphoria; and
6. Restricts collection and disclosure of data on “incidents of harmful behaviors” involving sexual
orientation and transgender persons, even for legislative purposes.
The RealClear Defense article cites official U.S. Army training PowerPoint slides, which were originally uncovered by the Wall Street Journal, and notes that they cover various “vignettes,” such as what Commanders should do if “a ‘female to male’ soldier announc[es] a pregnancy.” RealClear Defense also explains that the PowerPoint slides cover a scenario where a “male to female” soldier, who successfully transitioned and is officially recognized as such despite not having gender reassignment surgery, “wants to use female-designated showers.” “Another scenario describes a female soldier who is experiencing tension with a ‘transgender female’ roommate.”
These scenarios are problematic, according to RealClear Defense, because “both the discomforted female soldier and a commander who tries to find a solution likely would be accused of ‘biases against transgender individuals.'”
My review of the original DOD instruction and the December 2022 update, accomplished with my 31-year Navy history of reviewing DOD and Navy instructions similar to these, indicates that RealClear Defense and CMR have gotten the instructions largely correct.
More importantly, the original instruction mentioned service academies and ROTC only once, in a section covering initial service tour of duty, and noted that all academy and ROTC midshipmen/cadets are “subject to separation” “based on a medical condition that impairs the individual’s ability to complete such training or to access into the Armed Forces, under the same terms and conditions applicable to participants in comparable circumstances not related to transgender persons or gender transition.”
But the new change, in the very first section, states that “the term ‘Service member’ includes cadets and midshipmen in a contracted Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) status and those at the Military Service Academies,” and allows all of the benefits of the new changes to academy/ROTC students, including transitioning while “in an on-duty status before gender marker change in DEERS” (i.e. before the service officially changes a person’s sex after hormone and/or gender reassignment surgery).
I entered the Naval Academy at age 17, and can only imagine the changes that are occurring in what was already a pressure-cooker, 24/7 Navy academic and military environment.
CMR’s sixth bullet point about restricting information regarding “incidents of harmful behaviors” is actually contained in a separate DOD Instruction, 6400.11, which provides guidance for military leaders on preventing suicide, domestic abuse, etc.
Most importantly, from my perspective, the Army slides uncovered by the Wall Street Journal unintentionally reveal the complexity and likely negative impact to combat readiness from the new transgender policy changes, and the incredible new burdens on military commanders. Here are some highlights:
Vignette 3: A “male to female” transitioning soldier is unable to meet physical fitness test requirements due to taking “feminizing hormone therapy.” Solution: Do not change the PT test date or authorize extended leave, but a Commander may “work with the soldier and the military medical provider (MMP) to accommodate the soldier” or forward an “exception to policy (ETP) request to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.”
Vignette 4: A “male to female” soldier needs gender reassignment surgery that will extend the transition timeline past the soldier’s deployment date. Solution: The brigade-level Commander may delay the surgery until return from deployment or “assign the soldier to home-station duties.”
Vignette 5: A “female to male” soldier develops “severe” gender transition surgery “complications” requiring “additional procedures and an extended period of non-deployable time.” Solution: If the MMP finds that the complications may “permanently interfere with continued service, either the brigade-level commander or the military medical provider may refer the Soldier for a determination of fitness in the disability evaluation system,” which could lead to retirement or separation.
Note these are in addition to the other vignettes already noted including a “female to male” soldier who gets pregnant, mixed biological gender group shower facilities, and mixed biological gender roommates. Of special note, vignette 8 states that shower “[f]acilities will not be designated, modified, or constructed to make [transgender] only areas.”
The enormity of the burden on the warfighting commanders, who must prevent “biases against transgender individuals” while maintaining combat ready, deployable forces, is obvious.
As the former Commanding Officer of USS Toledo (SSN-769), a Tomahawk capable Los Angeles class attack submarine, for almost three years, I can tell you that maintaining peak combat readiness at all times with 1/3 of the crew changing over annually, with annual tactical and nuclear reactor inspections, pre-deployment certifications, and deployments to potentially hostile waters, even with an all-male crew, was extremely challenging and and easily the most demanding thing I have ever done.
Keep in mind that crew berthing on attack submarines is so limited that attack subs routinely bunk junior sailors in temporary “racks” in the torpedo room, with zero privacy, or use “hot racking,” where three sailors use two bunks, which works because one of the three sailors is always on watch.
I honestly cannot imagine accomplishing the same while contending with the Navy’s version of the transgender vignettes with a mixed gender crew. Submarine crews can and have done a lot, but this may be a bridge too far.DONATE
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