Study finds broad military support for transgender service

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A Pentagon-funded study contradicts the rationale behind a Trump administration ban on transgender military service.

According to the study, 66 percent of active-duty military members back an inclusive policy that allows transgendered individuals to serve.

“Findings suggest broad support for transgender military service across all branches of service and military ranks,” the authors state in the report.

The authors conclude that “transgender military service was widely supported among active-duty heterosexual and LGB cisgender military personnel, indicating that from the perspective of service members themselves, the ban should be lifted.”

This undercuts a key argument that the Trump administration has used to justify its reinstatement of a transgender service ban last year. In taking that step, the president said he had concluded that allowing transgender people to serve “erodes military readiness and unit cohesion,” the same rationale that was used against allowing service by gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans, but which was found to be baseless.

The “unit cohesion” argument assumes that unit mates won’t accept or trust LGBT peers and that the cohesion that’s critical to mission readiness will therefore deteriorate.

Palm Center director Aaron Belkin said the new findings lay bare the dishonest rationale the Trump administration is using to rationalize discrimination.

“This research, which was supported by the Pentagon itself, gives the lie to the claim that transgender Americans disrupt the cohesion or readiness of the U.S. military,” Belkin said. “If the military really cares about cohesion, it should read the research it funds or stop wasting taxpayer money.”

The subject population consisted of 486 active-duty, non-transgender service members from the four major branches of the U.S. military. Transgender respondents were excluded so as to measure only the sentiment of their peers to help assess whether distrust could harm unit cohesion.

Polls of the general population have consistently found that transgender service is supported by a similar share of the American public, with a Palm Center polling average, based on six major polls conducted last year, of 67 percent.

All five military Chiefs of Staff have testified that inclusive policy has caused no readiness issues, with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley having reported “precisely zero” problems resulting from transgender service.

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