Statement on DoD Transgender Policy
March 1, 2021
Joint Statement in Favor of Executive Order Overturning Trans Military Ban: APA Divisions 19 & 44
APA Division 44, the Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, and APA Division 19, the Society for Military Psychology, applaud President Biden for signing the January 25, 2021 Executive Order1 that ended the ban on transgender people serving in the military.
The recent Executive Order is supported by research findings suggesting that banning transgender people from military service reduced military readiness by lowering morale, undermining recruitment and retention efforts, weakening unit cohesion, and creating confusion — all of which undermine leadership.
The Executive Order is also consistent with the majority attitudes of the American people and military service members, who both favor allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III recently released a statement6 that fully supports President Biden’s Executive Order and provides guidance to the Department to “immediately take appropriate policy action to ensure that individuals who identify as transgender are eligible to enter and serve in their self-identified gender.” APA Division 44 and APA Division 19 agree with Secretary Austin that repealing the transgender ban is the right and smart thing to do.
Although the primary consideration for military service is readiness and national security, it is important to also point out that eligibility for military service has historically been important to minority groups being perceived as full citizens. For that reason, allowing transgender people to openly serve in the military reduces stigma and discrimination towards an already-vulnerable population. Stigma directed towards transgender service members has negative implications for their mental health, resulting in increased stress, depression, and anxiety. Conversely, the eligibility of transgender people for military service will also serve as an example for the nation.
Maurice Sipos, PhD
April 5, 2019
On March 12, 2019 the Department of Defense issued the Directive-type Memorandum (DTM)-19-004 – Military Service by Transgender Persons and Persons with Gender Dysphoria. The President of the Society for Military Psychology (Division 19, American Psychological Association, APA), commissioned a review of the memorandum. The transgender policy directed by this memorandum was reviewed by the Society of Military Psychology Diversity Committee in conjunction with other members of the Society familiar with behavioral health areas and readiness concerns. The Society’s Presidential Trio reviewed of this group’s findings and the memorandum, the Society’s previous statement, issued on July 28, 2017, has been reissued on April 5, 2019.
Stephen Bowles, PhD
Mark Staal, PhD
Eric Surface, PhD
Wyatt Evans, PhD
Chair, Diversity Committee
July 28, 2017
Several days ago, President Trump issued a statement indicating that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S military, reversing a 2016 decision that allowed this group to serve openly. A study completed by the Rand Corporation provided a mid-range estimate that 2,450 transgender individuals currently serve on active duty, with an additional 1,510 in the reserves. This same study indicated that between 29 and 129 of those serving on active duty would seek out medical treatment for gender transition.
In 2003, the APA Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Military Service was established, composed of members of Divisions 19 and 44, the Society for the Psychological Study of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues. This task force recommended ending the ban, then in place against gays openly serving in the military, with Council quickly passing this recommendation as a resolution Military psychologists within the Department of Defense (DoD) were very influential in the subsequent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” with their research proving critical in informing policy makers. The senior author of the DoD Comprehensive Review Report was joined by several colleagues, all of whom were military psychologists and members of Division 19, in recommending to President Obama that the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military be lifted.
Patriotism and the call to service is not dictated by gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any of the multitude of demographics used to characterize others. One of the strengths of the military is to be found in its diversity, in the willingness of its members to serve, in the opportunity to work as a team to accomplish a common goal. As a part of that process, bridges are built and barriers are destroyed – as occurred when racial minorities and women were successfully integrated into the military – and we became stronger as a Nation. To prohibit a segment of Americans from service, regardless of the demographic used, serves to diminish us all.
Sally Harvey, PhD
DIV19 President and CoR Representative
Mark Staal, PhD
Ann Landes, PhD