The largest association of doctors in the United States is arguing that there is “no medically valid reason” to bar transgender individuals from serving in the military, countering President Donald Trump’s policy issued in March.
“We believe there is no medically valid reason – including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria – to exclude transgender individuals from military service,” the American Medical Association wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis dated Tuesday.
“Transgender individuals have served, and continue to serve, our country with honor, and we believe they should be allowed to continue doing so.”
The letter, signed by AMA CEO James Madara, argues that Mattis’ recommendations to the President “mischaracterized and rejected the wide body of peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of transgender medical care.”
The letter was first reported by Politico.
Trump initially tweeted back in July his intentions to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the US armed forces. He signed a presidential memorandum a month later reversing the Obama-era rule that allowed transgender people to serve and left Mattis to draw up a plan for implementation. Transgender troops took the policy to court, which halted its implementation.
The Trump administration’s new policy, announced in March, disqualifies transgender persons with “a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria” except in limited circumstances from serving in the US military. It also bars transgender individuals “who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery.”
“The Department of Defense will continue to comply with the court orders and access transgender applicants for military service as well as retain transgender service members. Because this matter is being handled in multiple circuit courts, and to avoid interfering with that process, I’m not going to be able to provide further details at this time,” Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
A 2016 RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Defense Department concluded the number of transgender service members “seeking transition related care is so small” that it would likely have a “marginal impact” on health care costs and military readiness.
There are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals out of the 1.3 million service members on active duty, according to the RAND study. Between 29 and 129 of those service members will seek transition-related care that could “disrupt their ability to deploy.”
The study also estimated the cost of gender transition health care coverage for transgender personnel could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year – a 0.04% to to 0.13% increase in active duty health care costs.
AMA wrote in the letter to Mattis that this “should not be used as a reason to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country. We should be honoring their service.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Barbara Starr, Kevin Flower and Ben Tinker contributed to this report.