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Readers we’ve made it through another week and that in and of itself is a major accomplishment given the heat, political climate, and fake news so it’s time for our shoot the shit topic.

We love our new readers; as a courtesy to them we’d like to let you know that participation in our shoot the shit topics does not require that you know anything about the subject. You are free to make unsupported statements, use profanity, insult anyone you wish or change the subject altogether. You can normally expect to be billed $150 an hour for a basic therapist and much higher if they observe you, incognito. We on the other hand encourage you to let it all hang out, at no charge. So, let’s get on with today’s topic.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of President’s Trump decision to ban transgender individuals from all military service, a very sensitive and emotional topic – rightly so. Restricting an individual’s career options or denying that individual a job, for any reason, let alone sexual orientation,  is not just a vulgar display of prejudice but a criminal act. However, this fact does not mandate that we employ, promote or otherwise support the career ambitions of individuals whose inclusion may be detrimental to the organization. This is a difficult organizational decision for corporations, businesses and the country’s military.

The armed forces plan for decisive first strike capability, sustainment and survivability; all of these have as their least common denominator risk mitigation. That risk mitigation concern applies to tactics, equipment and personnel. The transgender issue falls squarely on the personnel side of the equation.

In the paragraphs that follow, I will introduce data from sociologists, psychologists and medical professionals. We are simply presenting facts assembled by national health organizations along with other groups. At no time do we diminish the LGBTQ community. But, as certain socio economic groups have a higher medical propensity for things like obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure, the gay community faces its own challenges. Every socio economic group has its exceptions but risk management has to consider the norm.

In the transgender community, pre-gender reassignment individuals suffer from  Gender Dysphoria – a fundamental unease and dissatisfaction with the biological sex one is born with which results in anxiety, depression, restlessness, and other symptoms. The dysphoria often acts as a catalyst to change one’s body and gender expression (how one presents to the world) to be more in keeping with what is felt to be one’s gender identity (the gender that one feels oneself to be).

Individuals who identify as transgender tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population. While approximately 6.7 percent of the general United States population suffers from depression and 18 percent grapple with some iteration of an anxiety disorder, nearly half of all individuals who identify as transgender experience these issues. What’s more, over 41 percent of trans men and women are estimated to have attempted suicide — a rate that’s nearly nine times as high as the rate of cisgender Americans.

Although a broad base of researchers agree with suicide and mental disorder data, there is considerable diversity in their views on causation. The most pro LGBTQ organizations attribute the statistics to discrimination, real or perceived, along with social stigma. At the other extreme you’ll find the work of Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, who describes transgenderism as a “mental disorder” that merits treatment and that sex change is “biologically impossible.” Dr. McHugh describes people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.

More recently, we have the issue of PFC Bradley E. Manning, now know as Chelsea Manning. In United States v Manning, Manning’s Defense Attorneys

“…also raised the issue of whether Manning’s gender identity disorder had affected Manning’s judgment. Manning had e-mailed master sergeant, Paul Adkins, in April 2010 to say she was suffering from gender confusion and, despite then living as a man, attaching a photograph of herself dressed as a woman. After Manning’s arrest, the army found information about hormone replacement therapy in her room, and Manning’s commander, Captain Steven Lim, learned that she had been calling herself Breanna. Defense lawyers argued that the superiors had failed to provide adequate counseling, and had not taken disciplinary action or revoke Manning’s security clearance. They also suggested that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy—which was repealed in September 2011—had made it difficult for Manning to serve in the army as a gay man…

There is an abundance of clinical material discussing the challenges faced by the transgender community, as well as the aggregate LGBTQ community. You can read that for yourself if the topic moves you, but for now I’d like to comment on the socialization component of the transgender issue. To do that, I will share a story from my own military service.

I served with a man, Petty Officer Washington, who I have the deepest regard for. Petty Officer Washington is, or perhaps was, an African American serviceman. He was a courageous, humble man with an unquenchable thirst for learning. I don’t think a day went by when Washington didn’t have a book in his hands. However, P.O. Washington faced a challenge. In the confines of a submarine, where privacy is nonexistent , when evacuating his bowel, Washington had to let his penis hang outside the toilet bowl, he was not showing off or being cute,  he was simply dealing with the fact that if he allowed it to hang inside the toilet bowl it would be immersed in water.

Now imagine, P.O. Washington, pre-gender reassignment, identifying as a woman and requesting access to the WAVES (female sailors) showers and latrines. How should this be addressed? Should the services build individual shower stalls and replace latrines with private bathroom stalls across all branches? When you have organizations as large as the U.S. Military, there are significant social and financial challenges that any manager must consider, and the 2 year and $20,000 cost of gender reassignment is not a fully loaded cost; the accommodation could very well mean not upgrading a weapon system.

The issues associated with the President’s Transgender decision are significant and don’t stop at financial exposure. Risk mitigation especially from internal exposure is a valid consideration, imagine gender dysphoria being responsible for a mass killing, intentional detonation of ordnance or disclosure of classified information. The President made a difficult decision but we’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that transgender exclusion stops at military service. At best, it’s political and shallow  to call his decision discriminatory; if anything can be criticized, is his “Trumpian” approach to the announcement. The actual implementation will undoubtedly consider the transgender servicemen and servicewomen presently serving honorably.

Let’s us know what you think. Have a great weekend and spend some time your buds and family. Stay safe!

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