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Former officials say military leaders deceived Congress about transgender troops

People protest the Trump administration’s ban on transgender soldiers in August 2017.

WASHINGTON — Former military service secretaries accused the Pentagon of deceiving Congress about the effects transgender troops transitioning has on the military, Politico reported on Wednesday.

“In seeking to justify President Trump’s wrong-headed ban on transgender service members at a congressional hearing last week, Defense Department officials made misleading claims,” Deborah Lee James, Ray Mabus and Eric Fanning, who ran the Air Force, Navy and Army, respectively, in the Obama administration, said in a statement shared with Politico.

Congress heard testimony last week about transgender people in the military, including from active and former transgender service members. The former officials say the Pentagon’s testimony last week ignores the military’s own data.

From Politico:

“Both the written and verbal testimony introduced deceptive, erroneous, and false assertions about the ostensible risk that gender dysphoria poses to readiness and deployment and about standards that [the Department of Defense] plans to apply to transgender service members,” they write in a point-by-point refutation.

Both critiques were organized by the nonprofit Palm Center, a research institute that specializes in sexual minorities.

In a hearing last week, James Stewart, the Pentagon’s top personnel official, told the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel that the military must maintain Trump’s proposed ban on recruits who have gender dysphoria — the psychological distress caused when a person’s physical or assigned gender conflicts with how they identify — due to the “the accommodations required for gender transition treatments.”

Stewart, who testified alongside Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency, told the committee in what at times was a combative hearing that those who have gender dysphoria should be disqualified from service because of the medical treatment they require.

Stewart stressed that under the Trump policy, transgender troops who do not undergo transition surgery to treat their gender dysphoria can still enlist.

The Obama era policy that allowed trans people to serve is still in effect while the current administration’s ban works through the courts.

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