Department of Defense funded study finds support for transgender military members among peers

A new study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense has found broad support for transgender military service members among heterosexual, cisgender and lesbian, gay or bisexual service members.

The peer-reviewed study appears to contradict one of the key arguments for the controversial ban on most transgender service announced by President Donald Trump in 2017. The ban took effect last year after a series of legal challenges.

The study, “Support for Transgender Military Service rom Active Duty United States Military Personnel,” surveyed 486 cisgender  currently serving on active duty in one of the four major branches of the U.S. military between August 2017 and March 2018. It found 66 percent of those surveyed supported the continued service of transgender people.

The “unit cohesion” argument used to support the policy holds cisgender active duty service members will not accept transgender people serving in their unit, harming mission readiness. Versions of the same argument were used to support bans on gay, lesbian and bisexual service members in the past and against racial integration of the military.

This data should go a long way toward discrediting the argument, the study’s authors wrote.

“Findings suggest broad support for transgender military service across all branches of service and military ranks,” the authors wrote. “Transgender military service was widely supported among active-duty heterosexual and LGB cisgender military personnel, indicating that from the perspective of service members themselves, the ban should be lifted.”

The new data is consistent with polling of the general population in the U.S. A polling average from the Palm Center, based on six major polls conducted last year, found 67 percent of those polled supported transgender military service.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, United States Army General Mark A. Milley, has also joined the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Commandants of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard in testifying that transgender-inclusive service does not harm military readiness.

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