Report: US Military's Ban On Transgender Troops 'Damaging'

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Former Navy SEAL and transgender female Kristen Beck

There is no "compelling medical reason" to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, according to a report released Thursday by an independent commission lead by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

The Palm Center, based at San Francisco State University, established the commission, which in addition to Elders includes former Coast Guard Director of Health and Safety Alan Steinman.

Commissioners wrote in the report:

“We determined not only that there is no compelling medical reason for the ban, but also that the ban itself is an expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, Guard and reserve components.”

The military's primary argument for the ban, as reported by The Associated Press, is based on the assumption that transgender people lack the psychological and physical fitness to serve.

Palm Center consultant Nathaniel Frank explained on Slate.com:

"[T]he singling out of transgender identity and conduct makes it clear that little more than discomfort and stigma account for the current ban..."

However, the report seems to have fallen on deaf ears at the Pentagon. Spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen told The Associated Press:

“At this time there are no plans to change the department’s policy and regulations which do not allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military."

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