By Chris Johnson, The Washington Blade
The American Medical Association has become the latest voice to oppose the prohibition on transgender service in the U.S. military by approving on Monday a resolution against the ban at an annual policy-making meeting.
Citing an estimate that 15,500 transgender people are serving in silence in the U.S. armed forces and arguing that current policy precludes doctors from treating them, the two-page resolution finds “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.” Among the findings of the resolution is the ban on openly transgender service is “out of date with respect to medical consensus about gender identity.”
Further, the resolution affirms that transgender service members “be provided care as determined by patient and physician according to the same medical standards that apply to non-transgender personnel.”
An official with the American Medical Association confirmed the resolution was adopted by a voice vote of the 538 physicians who comprise the House of Delegates, the AMA’s policy-making body. Although no record of the vote total is available, LGBT advocates behind the measure say its adoption was unanimous.
Brian Hurley, who served as a delegate at the AMA meeting in Chicago on behalf of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, spoke out at the meeting in favor of the resolution and praised AMA after it approved the measure.
“The AMA has taken the stand that there is no medical justification to exclude transgender people from military service or provide different standards of care to transgender military service members,” Hurley said. “I’m proud that the AMA has made an important contribution toward ending transgender military exclusion and advancing transgender equality.”
Prior to the adoption of the resolution, four former U.S. surgeons general — Joycelyn Elders, David Satcher, Regina Benjamin and Kenneth Moritsugu — issued a statement in support of the measure.
Aaron Belkin, director of the San Francisco-based Palm Center, also praised the resolution, saying no logical basis remains for keeping the ban on transgender service in place.
“The military’s transgender exclusion policy is sustained by claims that transgender individuals require more burdensome medical care in the field than other members of the military,” Belkin said. “Citing mounting research to the contrary, the AMA has now joined a chorus of expert voices showing this assertion to be false. The evidence illustrates that the military has no sound reason for this discriminatory policy that bans transgender troops who simply want to serve their country.”
The AMA adopts the resolution the week after the Air Force announced it will join the Army in raising the authority to discharge airmen because of their gender identity. Only the Department of the Navy hasn’t yet adopted a similar approach with respect to transgender service, which is currently banned as a result of medical regulation.