The panel consisted of Department of Defense and Homeland Security officials who met in late 2017 to evaluate how the Pentagon would be able to implement President Trump’s ban on transgender people from serving in the military. According to a report by Think Progress, the panel met with multiple groups including nine current transgender service members, a panel of military medical experts, and a panel of civilian medical experts.
Both groups of medical experts had conveyed that allowing transgender people to serve was the “right call” in their recommendations. They advised that implementing a ban would hurt transgender people who were currently serving in silence as well as civilians who would be stigmatized by the ban. One expert confirmed that allowing transgender people to serve would “increase the lethality and readiness of the force” because they would be “providing health care to an unserved population.”
The panel also heard from a “Retention and Non-deployable workgroup” who confirmed the analysis provided by the medical experts showing that deployability would not be a concern as “Mature theaters (Korea, Afghanistan) would likely be able to support transgender service members with mental health and medical support.”
A group of nine current transgender service members also met with the panel and it was revealed that none of them “had missed any deployments nor had any concerns with their units.” Two of the soldiers, Navy Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann and Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King, indicated that the panel was mostly positive and seemed more concerned about how they could improve policies to better accommodate transgender people were serving.
The report by Think Progress also found a “Data Extract” document that suggested military costs for service members with gender dysphoria have risen “nearly 3 times” compared to those serving who didn’t experience gender dysphoria. Despite the claim, chart data in the document showed that costs were insignificant as they confirmed estimates that were previously indicated in a 2016 RAND Corporation study.
According to a report by Slate, multiple sources indicated that Vice President Mike Pence played “a leading role” in creating the final report, with Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, which has been called “Trump’s favorite think tank,” and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBTQ hate group. According to the reporting, Defense Secretary Mattis had been in favor of allowing transgender people to serve in the military, but Pence “effectively overruled” him.
The final policy that was unveiled in late March prohibited those with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or requiring transition-related medication or surgery, from military service “except under certain limited circumstances.” A federal judge shut down the updated policy in April, after finding it was no different from the previous version that was already blocked by the courts.