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Are transgender individuals fit to serve in the military?

A new study shows that transgender active-duty U.S. military personnel report few lifetime mental and physical health problems. These findings challenge the current policy of excluding transgender persons from enlisting in the U.S. military or discharging them based on the presumption that they are unfit to serve due to their mental or physical health, according to the authors of the study published in Transgender Health, a new peer-reviewed open access journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available open access on the Transgender Health website.

The article “Fit to Serve? Exploring Mental and Physical Health and Well-Being Among Transgender Active-Duty Service Members and Veterans in the U.S. Military,” presents data exploring lifetime mental and physical problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse among active-duty service members and veterans in the U.S. military. Brandon Hill and Alida Bouris, University of Chicago, Joshua Trey Barnett, University of Utah (Salt Lake City), and Dayna Walker, Transgender American Veterans Association (Tampa, FL), conclude that the few mental and physical health problems reported by transgender active duty military personnel do not support the practice of barring them from open service. In fact, mental and physical problems were associated with age and years of military service.

“This article by Brandon Hill and colleagues shines light on salient issues related to transgender active-duty military personnel,” says Editor-in-Chief Robert Garofalo MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Director, Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “Their research adds to the growing consensus among researchers and practitioners of transgender health that transgender people should be allowed to serve openly in the US military.”