In a rather surprise move on Friday, Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military. The announcement goes against the recommendation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who reportedly told Trump that transgender people should be allowed to serve. It turns out, that Trump disregarded Mattis in favor of Pence’s anti-trans junk science report.
According to multiple sources, Pence held “a leading role” in the creation of the report that was put together by Ryan T Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ hate group. Pence, Anderson, and Perkins formed their own panel and released Friday’s report recommending the ban. Although the report bears Mattis’ signature, it is very different from the inclusive approach that he previously recommended.
It isn’t really clear how Pence was able to overrule Mattis’ recommendations. However, the report is full of anti-trans points that mirror those argued in Anderson’t book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. It favors discrimination against transgender people and distorts a lot of the current research on transgender health. When Anderson was asked via Twitter about his involvement in drafting the report, he refused to directly answer and instead responded that “there’s no evidence” he was involved.
The report itself cites a lot of faulty logic to come to the conclusion that transgender people should not be allowed to serve. In particular, it points to showering and berthing difficulties, the loss of unit cohesion, and the unfairness of a cisgender female having to compete against a transgender females. Many of these arguments were used previously to prohibit gay and lesbian service members from “coming out.”
Even though the report pushed for a transgender ban, it did have a few guidelines on how a transgender person could serve in the military. Basically, they can get treatment for gender dysphoria, not take any steps towards transitioning, and “adhere to all standards associated with their biological sex.” In other words, a transgender person can serve if they aren’t transgendered.
It is fairly easy to see Pence’s anti-LGBTQ stamp all over the report as it is no secret that he has been a long-time opponent to equality.