A new report indicates U.S. service members born biologically male are twice as likely as civilians to identify as female.
Following up on his original 1988 study of some five million troops, psychologist George Brown noted a striking similarity in the clinical histories of what he terms “gender dysphorics” in the Armed Forces: They enlisted “to become real men.”
It’s not clear, though, how many of those men eventually transition into a female identity or simply feel different than the gender they were assigned at birth. The Department of Defense’s ban on trans men and women, “based upon medical standards for military service,” makes getting the complete picture difficult. There’s also no data on the number of biological women who identify as male.
Brown, who will present his complete findings at a conference this fall, is on the board of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which publishes the American Psychological Association’s standards for gender-identity disorder.
Among his assertions is that transgender-inclined soldiers often volunteer for the most dangerous missions: “Warrior identity and military masculinity are so revered in this society that people will do whatever it takes, including dying, for people to prove that they are ‘real men.’”
Bradley Manning, the soldier currently on trial for his role in the Wikileaks scandal, suffered because of the military’s current ban on trans troops, his defense attorneys allege. A copy of Brown’s Flight into Hypermasculinity was found among Manning’s effects. He also researched gender-reconstructive surgery and, according to testimony, adopted a female persona online.
Other countries that allow transgender men and women to enlist include Israel, Spain, Thailand and Canada, which lifted its ban on gender and sexual minorities in one fell swoop in 1992. “It was at the time and it continues to be a complete non-issue,” retired Canadian Navy captain Alan Okros said.