WASHINGTON — A group of military chaplains are expressing their concern over the Pentagon’s recent announcement that it will end the military’s ban on open transgenders in the military.
As previously reported, the Pentagon issued its announcement on Thursday, a year after officials outlined that a six-month study would be conducted to determine whether lifting the ban could have any adverse effect on battle preparedness.
The study was to encompass a variety of aspects, such as how transgenders will be housed, what uniforms they will wear, what bathrooms they will use, and what physical fitness/training standards they will be held to as a person that now seeks to be known as the opposite gender.
Officials also planned to consider whether the government will pay for “gender reassignment” surgeries and other treatments sought by those who identify as transgender.
“We’re eliminating policies that can result in transgender members being treated differently from their peers based solely upon their gender identity rather than upon their ability to serve,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in his announcement last week.
He advised that within 90 days, the Pentagon would craft a manual for superiors on how to handle the matter, which will also include information for military doctors.
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is now expressing concern for how the development will affect religious liberty, noting that chaplain endorsers recently were present on a conference call with a senior Pentagon official, who outlined the implications of the decision.
According to the Alliance, those who struggle with their gender identity will be required to see a military medical professional and obtain a statement certifying that they have gender dysphoria. Once this has been accomplished, the person will have be permitted to obtain any sex-change procedures.
“An endorser on the call asked whether medical professionals who hold a biblical view on human sexuality will be required to violate their consciences and do as these persons demand,” explained Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA Retired, who serves as the executive director of the Alliance, in a statement, “and the response was that it is the responsibility of medical professional to serve military persons.”
“It’s an understatement to say that this raises serious religious liberty concerns,” he said.
Crews stated that medical professionals in the military should not be forced to violate their deeply held religious beliefs.
“The Department of Defense must ensure a service member is not forced to violate his or her conscience and that doctors and nurses who hold to a biblical view of human sexuality can serve in today’s military,” he said. “Congress has spoken on this issue in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act.”
Crews also advised that endorsers were told that military members with “mixed genitalia” may be present in showers and barracks as they will be in the process of changing their identity.
“Americans need to know the extreme implications of this policy,” he said. “Do we want our sons and daughters to be forced to share showers and sleeping spaces in a ‘mixed genitalia’ environment with no recourse for objections of conscience?”