Former military surgeons general: Trump claims on training personnel to accept transgender recruits 'suspicious'

Former military surgeons general: Trump claims on training personnel to accept transgender recruits 'suspicious'
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Three former military surgeons general are calling the Trump administration’s claims about the complexity of training 23,000 personnel to process transgender recruits “suspicious.” 

“Beyond former leaders’ confirmation that DOD [the Department of Defense] completed most preparatory work by the time of the transition, the administration’s claims are suspicious because training recruiters and medical evaluators to process applications from transgender candidates is neither complicated nor time-consuming,” the retired officers wrote in a report released Monday by the Palm Center, which promotes the study of LGBT people in the armed forces.

The analysis was written by retired Vice Adm. Donald Arthur, surgeon general of the Navy from 2004 to 2007; retired Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, acting surgeon general of the Army in 2007; and retired Adm. Alan Steinman, the Coast Guard’s equivalent of a surgeon general from 1993 to 1997.


The Pentagon is set to begin accepting transgender recruits into the military on Jan. 1 after court orders blocking President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE’s transgender ban said DOD must adhere to the plan to accept recruits by the date that was in place prior to the ban.

The Pentagon has said it will follow the court orders as administration lawyers appeal.

In motions opposing the court orders, the administration included a sworn statement from Lernes Hebert, acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for military personnel policy. To meet the Jan. 1 deadline, Hebert said, the Pentagon would need to prepare 20,367 recruiters, 2,785 employees across 65 military entrance processing stations and 32 service medical waiver authorities and personnel at nine boot camps, which would "impose extraordinary burdens."

Meanwhile, former Obama administration service secretaries, including former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, have said in a sworn statement in one of the court cases that the work on lifting the admission ban was largely done by the time they left office last January.

In the paper on Monday, the former military surgeons general said recruiters, who make up the bulk of the personnel the Trump administration said it has to train, do not need any additional training.


“Recruiters require no training to process transgender applicants, because the only points recruiters need to understand are that qualified transgender people are permitted to serve, and that recruiters should process their paperwork the same way they process paperwork for everyone else,” they wrote. “According to one of the nation’s top experts in accession policies and practices, sending a one-page instruction to all recruiting stations would suffice if it has not already been done.”

Medical evaluators, the former surgeons general added, do not need in-depth training because they are already well-versed in assessing medical fitness and conditions associated with gender dysphoria, such as hormone treatments and surgical recovery, are not unique.

The training that medical evaluators do need, the analysis said, could take a little as four hours.

“The training includes a slide show; discussions of accession regulations, definition and diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and effects of medical treatments; and a period for questions and answers,” they wrote. “Even if DOD had not completed most preparation for the lifting of the accession ban almost one year ago, training personnel to process transgender applicants would not be difficult or time-consuming.”