Mental health groups respond to Trump military transgender ban

VoA / Public domainYesterday, President Donald Trump announced a ban on people who identify as transgender serving in the US military. US mental health professional associations swiftly challenged the ban. The associations cite research supporting the inclusion of transgender men and women. For example, a 2016 RAND Corporation study showed that inclusion of transgender servicemembers would have little to no impact on costs or combat readiness.

The major US mental health associations issued the following statements in regard to the ban.

American Psychological Association

The APA statement calls for the reversal of the ban and eviscerates its supposed rationale. The full APA statement can be read here. It includes the following:

Trump’s concerns about the “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail” echo arguments underlying the Defense Department’s previous “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, [APA President Antonio E.] Puente said. He cited research by Aaron Belkin, PhD, a leading scholar and director of the Palm Center, which has found no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale. “Indeed, Dr. Belkin has found that the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell appears to have enhanced the military’s ability to pursue its mission,” Puente added.

[…] Research has shown that discrimination is a significant source of stress for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and has substantial adverse effects on their health and well-being. For decades, APA has been engaged in applying psychological science to improve the health and well-being of LGBT people. APA has urged psychologists to take a leading role in ending discrimination based on gender identity and has called for more research into all aspects of gender identity and expression. APA’s governing Council of Representatives adopted a resolution in 2008 supporting full equality for transgender and gender-variant people and legal and social recognition of transgender individuals.

American Counseling Association

The full ACA statement can be read here (h/t James). It includes the following:

Although we understand that certain guidelines surrounding military service must exist, identifying as transgender should never be a disqualifying factor for persons currently on active duty or those in the reserves, nor for those who wish to serve in the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard.

National Association of Social Workers

The full NASW statement can be read here. It directly calls for the ban to be lifted. It includes the following:

This change […] is blatantly disrespectful to and clearly disregards the honorable service of all transgender and gender non-conforming service members. […] The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the opening of combat roles to women, and lifting the ban on transgender people share a common value: that a career in the military and military job assignments should be based on merit and not on gender, gender identity or sexuality orientation.

The ban is also unjustified because people who are transgender already play an integral role in the military. The Williams Institute estimates there are more than 15,000 active duty members of the military and 134,000 veterans who are transgender.

This post will be updated as additional groups make formal statements.