STUDY: Military Men Twice As Likely To Be Transgender Than Civilians

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.

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  • Daez

    I hope that is not the entire defense of the despicable Manning. Is that the best they can come up with. Who has not at one time or another adopted a female persona online. Is it really that uncommon to research gender reassignment therapy? Reading a book about masculinity suddenly makes you want to have a sex change?

    Seriously, it is almost like his lawyers were all set to use the gay card and then they were trumped with the repeal of DADT and now they have to grasp at straws to use the transgendered card. All the while, they remain unable to disprove the fact that this coward leaked military secrets that could have caused irreparable harm to the American war effort.


    @Daez: DO NOT TALK FUCKING SHIT!!! I am homosexual, and never wear women clothes in my life and never want too. But Ho well with a name like yours you most be fucking Cathilic.

  • JohnD

    @Daez: “Despicable Manning?” You mean the guy who exposed a vast amount of criminal acts committed by the U.S. government? It’s sad how insane you pro-big government people are. Some little guy who stands against government atrocities is a villain but the government which has tortured and murdered countless innocent civilians is just a-okay with you. You make me sick. I didn’t serve in the military so cowards like you could pump up your chests real big and call for an end to the American republic replaced by a mass-murdering regime. One day karma’s going to bite you freaks real good.

  • genessa

    I’m a transgender combat veteran from the marine corps … This study us spot on.

  • Emily

    I to am a Marine Corps Veteran and transgender. The report follows my experience as well.

  • Dark

    @JohnD: Thank you for your service; however, you, more than anyone should know that war is war and I have zero sympathy for a region that led to 9/11. In wartime there are no real crimes and atrocities unless they are committed by the losing side. Also, you did not serve in the military so you could brag about it for the rest of your life, or did you?

  • JohnD

    @Dark: “Also, you did not serve in the military so you could brag about it for the rest of your life, or did you?” No, the point I was making is that the oath I took when I went into the service was to uphold the Constitution, not kill muslims and oppress the U.S. civilian populace at any cost. Also, you didn’t not serve in the military so you could shame people who did, or did you?

    “In wartime there are no real crimes and atrocities unless they are committed by the losing side.” Guess you have no moral compass whatsoever.

  • SS

    Unless Brown published a very similar study also in 1988, PubMed shows that his sample size was ELEVEN subjects–a small case study. 1988 is ancient history in such a fast-moving field. This is newsworthy if and only if his new data is published and evaluated to be sound. We should wait for the paper before drawing broad conclusions.

    The abstract of the original study: “A sample of 11 male gender-dysphoric patients meeting DSM-III criteria for transsexualism was seen over a 3-year period by a military psychiatrist. Eight patients had extensive military experience, including combat duty in some cases. At the time of evaluation three were on active duty, one was a Department of Defense employee, and four were veterans. Evidence is presented for a hypermasculine phase of development that coincides with the age of enlistment in nearly all cases. The psychodynamic underpinnings of the choice to enlist in transsexual males are discussed. Outcome of military service was premature discharge in over 60%. The military’s management of gender-dysphoric servicemen is described. Current military policies, in association with the proposed hypermasculine phase of transsexual development, may actually result in a higher prevalence of transsexualism in the military than in the civilian population.”

  • Gerri w

    I know a lot of transgender friends who are also veterans. I was not in the armed forces, but I did many things to try and prove my man hood.

    So now I live full time as a transgender woman, driving an 18 wheeler. Still trying to prove myself?

  • sheena

    i know some…..also the famous calpernia adams whose life was made into a movie called soldiers girl……was in military……

  • Jillian

    As an x Army enlisted I feel the same, I am now full time MtF and left the National Guard so that I could transition, I look back and have many times told people I joined “to prove to myself that I was a man”, as you can see it really did not work, it just suppressed me from being me for many more years.

  • bbrownell

    @genessa: @Emily: @Jillian: Hi Genessa, Emily, and Jillian, I’m a researcher for Mother Jones magazine looking into a story about serving as a transgender member of the military. If you might be able to help me answer a few questions please email at [email protected]. Thanks a lot.

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