8.4% of female servicemembers reported being sexually assaulted in 2021. With over 224,000 females on active duty that amounts to over 18,000 women reporting assault. These 18,000 women, in addition to the rest of DoD, have been ordered to accept the new DoD transgender policy. Servicemembers have no say in whether or not transgender servicemembers (even before transition begins) can shower with them, live in their dorm rooms, or join in other areas of their garrison and deployed lives. Training has been clear that servicemembers who object to the integration will be investigated for violations of equal opportunity policy. Further, training has made it clear that transgenders can withhold the fact they are transitioning from anyone but commanders and medical personnel. As a result, female servicemembers are not allowed to ask if a new roommate or showermate with male genitalia is transgender.
RLE (Real Life Experience) as defined by DoDI (1300.28 (30 April 2021) “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members”:
“The phase in the gender transition process during which the individual begins living socially in the gender role consistent with their self-identified gender. RLE may or may not be preceded by the commencement of cross-sex hormone therapy, depending on the medical treatment associated with the individual Service member, cadet, or midshipman’s gender transition. The RLE phase is also a necessary precursor to certain medical procedures, including gender transition surgery. RLE generally encompasses dressing in the new gender, as well as using self-identified gender berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities.”
Sexual assault victims commonly suffer for a sense of loss of control of their body. Many continue to experience PTSD of the events. As a physician, I fail to see in any form how ordering 18,000 female service member rape victims to accept showering and living with a servicemember with male genitalia without notification or any ability to reasonably request accommodations for their sexual assault healing process is acceptable.
Women comprise over 16% of the military’s force. Estimates vary widely on the transgender component, ranging from 0.3% to 1% with the DoD estimate from 2019 being the higher number. With the military taking the civilian sector’s lead in suppressing news and statistics concerning transgender sexual assault against cis women, this is a disturbing development. This article does not allege that all transgender servicemembers are predators. On the contrary, to provide the benefit of the doubt, the vast majority are likely non-violent and patriotic like any other group of Americans. However, numerous reports of assaults have managed to avoid the intense suppression by school boards and mass media. Likely the incidence of assaults is far higher.
Even if there is no risk of sexual assault against cis women, mandating victims of sexual assault to shower and live in close quarters and see male genitalia against their will is evil. Clearly, this plan was not adequately thought through. Worse, if DoD leaders knew about this major problem and proceeded anyway to appease political masters, then a public and national debate must immediately be done to safeguard the rights and medical needs of cis women. As it stands the translation of the policy is that cis-gender females don’t matter in the military anymore. As a brother to two former female servicemembers and spouse of a retired USAF officer, the details of the policy border on treachery.
Transgender patients are frequently on numerous psychiatric medications to control their issues beyond gender dysphoria. Adding multiple high dose sexual hormone treatments is likely to make emotional issues worse, especially during the transition process. This adds to the problematic plan to have them living with male genitalia with female cis-gender servicemembers, particularly ones who have been victims of rape and assault.
As an ER physician for over 20 years, I have treated many women who were sexual assault victims. Even years after the event, many are still uncomfortable around male doctors. Imagine now subjecting them to living conditions against their will.
In Iraq, our brigade had a battalion of all male soldiers from a NATO country. Their soldiers didn’t respect women as the US military does (or at least did at one time) and they often just walked into the female shower areas. In addition to them attempting to get gratuitous views of our soldiers, several near assaults were averted by our male soldiers who quickly stood by to guard our female soldiers with 2x4s. If generals won’t protect our soldiers, I am quite confident the lower ranks will take care of their own and much friction will result. Generals need to realize that if they intend to integrate transgender servicemembers to the military that it doesn’t have to be a zero sum game where cis-gender women lose their rights and self-respect.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Class of 1996
Member of www.starrs.us