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Georgia GOP House candidate, retired military colonel says US should reinstate transgender military ban

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Story at a glance

  • A Republican running for a Georgia House seat late last week called on the U.S. military to reinstate a ban on transgender service members.
  • Mitchell Swan, also a retired colonel, in statements sent to Fox News said allowing transgender people to serve in the military sends a message that the U.S. is more interested in “social experimentation” than defending the nation, and he likened gender dysphoria to bedwetting or sleepwalking.
  • Former President Trump in 2017 announced trans individuals would be barred from military service. President Biden in an executive order last year reversed that policy.

A Republican running for a Georgia House seat has called on the U.S. military to reinstate a ban on transgender service members amid fighting in Ukraine, warning that gender dysphoria could weaken military performance.

“A strong military is essential to preventing escalating situations like Ukraine and Afghanistan,” Mitchell Swan, also a retired colonel, told Fox News late last week. “Allowing transgender individuals to serve sends a message to our adversaries that we are more focused on social experimentation than on the defense of our nation.”

Swan said “serving in the military is not a right,” and compared gender dysphoria to conditions like bedwetting and sleepwalking, which make an individual ineligible to serve under the military’s “strict ‘selective service’ standards.”

“They are not disqualified because they are bad people, but because these symptoms are considered mental and emotional issues that are not conducive to combat environments,” he told Fox News. “Gender dysphoria is no different and should be treated the same; that it is not conducive to enhancing military performance or unit morale.”


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“Military recruiting needs to be focused on readiness,” he added. “The military cannot afford to recruit a transgender individual who will need mental and physical attention over someone who is ready to fight from day one.”

Former President Trump in 2017 announced his administration would be banning trans military service, arguing in a series of tweets that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

President Biden repealed that policy last year during his first week in office, writing in an executive order that “gender identity should not be a bar to military service.”

A previous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy adopted by the U.S. military in 1994 prevented service members from openly identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual. That policy was rolled back in 2011 by then-President Obama.

But its introduction has had lasting effects on LGBTQ+ service members. A 2015 qualitative study of more than a dozen transgender active-duty service members found that “having to conceal one’s gender identity itself was a significant source of distress.” Those findings are consistent with research in 2013 which found that LGB veterans who served under DADT were more likely to experience depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Another 2013 study examining Veterans Health Administration patient records from 2000 to 2011 found that the rate of suicide-related events among veterans diagnosed with a gender identity disorder — also known as gender dysphoria — was more than 20 times higher than those of the general veteran population.

The Department of Veterans Affairs in January announced that U.S. veterans are now able to identify as transgender and nonbinary in official medical records.


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