Department of Defense (DOD) researchers argued for expanding gender transition treatments for children as young as seven who belong to military families in a journal article from March.
Legislative efforts in states have created a “gender affirming care crisis” for minors by restricting medical treatments and exacerbating alleged mental health issues associated with regulations on bathroom use and sports participation, the researchers argued in the latest issue of the American Journal of Public Health. DOD should “publicly declare a position” in favor of cross-gender treatments for military-affiliated youths and take steps to counteract what the doctors view as health-jeopardizing barriers to treatment, they said.
“Affirming care has only recently become politicized; protection of gender-affirming medical care for military-affiliated [transgender] youths may require a declarative position without tolerance for personal biases, as the DoD has historically achieved for other minoritized groups,” the authors wrote. (RELATED: The Left’s Transgender Agenda For Children Is At A Tipping Point)
For example, DOD could use a program created to provide extraordinary medical services for dependents of military members with special needs. DOD could add provisions to the Exceptional Family Member Program ensuring that families with transgender children are prioritized for duty stations in states with more lax rules on transgender treatments and prevent relocation to areas unable to provide the desired services.
The researchers advocated for allowing families with transgender children to use a special funding program for temporary travel to other states for the desired treatment in a similar fashion to the Pentagon’s recently-created abortion travel allowance.
“Military dependent and nondependent [transgender] youths are at high risk for chronic stressors that may lead to poor mental health outcomes and risk-taking behaviors,” the researchers said.
Texas, Arizona, Alabama and Arkansas contain 13% of the active duty force and four of the largest military bases in the U.S. are in states that have passed or are considering a ban on insurance coverage for transgender treatments, according to the article.
While it’s unclear how many transgender youths are affiliated with DOD, at least 2,500 children actively sought gender dysphoria services through Tricare, the DOD insurance plan, after it began covering puberty suppression and cross-sex hormone treatment in 2017, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics.
These factors together could degrade U.S. military readiness, the doctors said.
“These laws also assume that [transgender] adolescents and their parents are incapable of understanding the risks and benefits of gender-affirming medical care and then deciding what is in the youth’s best interest,” the article said, citing a 2022 study conducted by researchers at Yale University. Children as young as seven can have a say in decisions about their health, the researchers said.
Great presentations by @USUhealthsci Clinical Psych PhD students LTJG Exley & Lt Murray in @NatashaSchvey’s lab about gender based stigma and service members seeking sexual assault-related healthcare @ABCTNOW #ABCT2022 @DrElsterUSUSoM pic.twitter.com/Tz8K8eRe8U
— Jeff Goodie, PhD, ABPP (@JeffGoodiePhD) November 19, 2022
A disclaimer states that the study is a reflection of the authors’ opinions and not the official position of the Uniformed Health University or any other DOD entity. However, four of the five authors are affiliated with DOD medical institutions, including the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, the pediatrics wing of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University, the Pentagon’s medical school equivalent to service academies.
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