Transgender in the Military: Still a Bad Idea

One of my first duties as a newly installed squadron executive officer was to sign the separation orders for 20 Marines.  They had been clinically diagnosed with having a "personality disorder."  After almost 17 years in the Marine Corps, I hadn't heard that term before, so I asked the legal officer standing in front of my desk to explain it and the separation process.  Also, how could 20 Marines have gotten through boot camp and infantry training, only now to be determined unfit for military service with a disqualifying "personality disorder"?  I smelled a rat.

It was late 1990 in Millington, Tennessee, and the first Gulf War was about to start.  I played racquetball frequently with the naval hospital commanding officer; I got on his calendar and was brought up to speed on the psychiatry behind "personality disorders." 

Like most Americans, I was aware of the Jamie Farr character, "Corporal Klinger," from the television series M*A*S*H.  Everyone in America knew that Corporal Klinger wore dresses to try to convince the army that he was crazy and deserved a Section 8 discharge.  Klinger always played up his bizarre behavior to visiting high-ranking officers in an attempt to gain their sympathy and convince them that he was unfit to serve.  When the Colonel Sherman Potter character took command, Klinger immediately tried the same shtick with him, but Potter saw through his scam immediately.  

The commanding officer and I entered the office of the shrink who had rendered his diagnosis on my 20 Marines.  I left the naval hospital with new information: nearly all of my 20 Marines didn't really have "personality disorders."  Like the Corporal Klinger character, they just wanted to get out of the Marine Corps.  There was a psychiatrist who was sympathetic to the Marines who "didn't want to be there" and had signed off on a diagnosis that would result in an immediate discharge.  

I had the barracks gunnery sergeant bring the 20 Marines to my office.  I read them their rights.  I charged them with filing a false official statement.

Klinger gave up wearing women's clothing after Colonel Potter explained how a Section 8 discharge would adversely affect his life.  I told my young Marines I wasn't going to contribute to their poor decision-making, and if they didn't come clean on their little scheme to get out of the Marine Corps, they were going to the brig.  Nineteen Marines sang like birds, got an ass-chewing they would likely never forget, and went back to school.  I signed one discharge for a personality disorder when that Marine admitted to sleeping with his mother and would have had sex with her on the floor of my office.  The idiot psychiatrist got one right.  Mommy was just as screwed up as her son.

I learned much from that experience and took for granted the mental state of those military men and women entrusted with operating and maintaining supersonic planes, nuclear submarines, thermonuclear missiles, artillery, and hundreds of other critical positions across the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard.  Good, productive men and women in uniform must be of sound mind and body.  The reason for identifying and discharging military men and women with bona fide "personality disorders" is to ensure we have the best balanced and responsible people in critical positions. 

Transgenderism is a hot political topic.  Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, has written that transgenderism is a "mental disorder" that merits treatment, that sex change is "biologically impossible," and that people who promote "sexual reassignment" surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.

"The assumption that one's gender is only in the mind regardless of anatomical reality, has led some transgendered people to push for social acceptance and affirmation of their own subjective 'personal truth,'" said Dr. McHugh.  As a result, some states – California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts – have passed laws barring psychiatrists, "even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor." 

Dr. McHugh also said, "The pro-transgender advocates do not want to know that studies show between 70% and 80% of children who express transgender feelings 'spontaneously lose those feelings' over time.  Also, for those who had sexual reassignment [sic] surgery, most said they were 'satisfied' with the operation 'but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn't have the surgery.'"

He also warned against enabling or encouraging certain subgroups of the transgendered, such as young people "susceptible to suggestion from 'everything is normal' sex education" and the schools' "diversity counselors," who, like "cult leaders," may "encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery." 

Dr. McHugh reported that there are "misguided doctors" who, working with very young children who seem to imitate the opposite sex, will administer "puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous – even though the drugs stunt the children's growth and risk causing sterility." 

The misguided psychiatrist at the naval hospital in 1990 was more interested in collaborating with a couple of dozen misguided Marines and their get-out-of-the-Marine Corps scheme even though his diagnosis would have forever stigmatized them with a mental disorder they did not have.

Such action comes "close to child abuse," said Dr. McHugh, given that close to 80% of those kids will "abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated."

'"Sex change' is biologically impossible.  People who undergo sex-reassignment [sic] surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa.  Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women.  Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder." 

For all of human history, boy meant boy and girl meant girl.  Boy did not mean girl or vice versa.  With the executive order that transgenders, people with a clinical diagnosis of "gender identity disorder," could openly serve in the armed forces, President Barack Obama declared that transgenderism is a normal condition, not a clinical "mental disorder" that merits treatment.

If you don't see anything wrong with having sex with your mother, or if you cannot recognize that there is a problem with boys pretending to be girls and girls pretending to be boys, it's not a good idea to have you flying high-performance fighters over Europe or on watch in a missile silo in Wyoming or monitoring the health of a sub's nuclear reactor in Pearl Harbor. 

If the left is going to dictate to America that we are supposed to pretend that men are women and women are men, and that it is okay and normal for transgenders to serve in the military, then they are going to have a fight on their hands.  We should not modify basic biology because it threatens their distorted and subjective sense of what they are.

Transgenders have an issue, and we wish them Godspeed in dealing with it.  They do not merit a position in our military based on a politicized presidential executive order.  They deserve and merit treatment for a personality disorder.

President Trump needs to rescind President Obama's executive order.  Transgenders have no business in or leading the men and women of the military.

Mark retired from the Marine Corps and is an author.