Former JAG: Transgender Policy Neglects Military Religious Freedom

…and the US military appears to officially endorse “mixed genitalia” showers.

Daniel Briggs, director of military affairs for the Alliance Defending Freedom, is a former Air Force JAG. Writing at The Daily Signal, he noted the DoD’s new policy initiative on people who are transgendered fails to even mention religious freedom, despite its importance — particularly with respect to the medical professionals who have a large role in the change [emphasis added]:

Neither the instruction nor the memo acknowledges the religious freedom, freedom of conscience, or professional discretion of military medical providers…

What about the medical providers who do not provide the diagnosis or treatment a service member seeks? Perhaps their religious beliefs confirm their medical understanding of gender being inextricably linked to biological sex, leading them to conclude that this service member needs help (counseling, therapy) but not affirmation.

Briggs is essentially saying the transgender transition (in policy), which was not subject to public scrutiny as was the repeal of DADT, is being made as a “thou shalt,” without regard to religious belief or conscience.

Further, Briggs identified a potential slippery slope enshrined in the policy, which says:

In applying the tools described in this [policy], a commander will not accommodate biases against transgender individuals.

Briggs responds [emphasis added]:

Do chaplains who counsel on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs run afoul of this prohibition? What about medical providers who request to be removed from the gender transition decision matrix?

If a female service member requests a reasonable accommodation respecting her privacy interests in not being forced to shower with a male, is she actually expressing a prohibited bias? It’s pretty safe to say which way commanders will feel compelled to lean when in doubt.

This isn’t a hypothetical scare tactic. Retired US Army Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews expressed similar concerns about religious freedom after participating in a conference call between chaplain endorsers and a “senior Pentagon official” (PDF):

An endorser on the call asked whether medical professionals who hold a biblical view on human sexuality will be required to violate their consciences and do as these persons demand, and the response was that it is the responsibility of medical professionals to serve military persons.

It’s an understatement to say that this raises serious religious liberty concerns.

Regarding the non-hypothetical, the Pentagon casually mentioned another significant detail [emphasis added]:

The official on the conference call went on to say that “mixed genitalia” will be present in military bathrooms, showers, and barracks because service members will be in various stages of change in their sexual identity.

People used to joke about the scene in the movie Starship Troopers in which males and females casually showered together. Now the US military is saying not only that males and females may shower together, but that they will, and that for someone to complain about such “mixed genitalia” would be tantamount to a “prohibited bias.” (For those that don’t remember high school biology, people with XY chromosomes are male, people with XX chromosomes are female.)

Call it what you will — chivalry, shame, common decency — the concept that men and women are different (something Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently said himself) is not new, and proper and appropriate differences in treatment, accommodations, conduct, etc, are entirely reasonable — as they have been for millennia.

This includes situations like medical exams (where patients can still ask for a doctor of the same gender), bathrooms, and showers, which still bear “men” and “women” signs, even if the new push is to ignore those signs.

While there are certainly religious and moral reasons to object to what some have called breaking down the barriers of decency, there are practical reasons as well: Even as the US military claims it is fighting the scourge of sexual assault, it is simultaneously potentially discouraging service members from what was once called decent behavior with regard to “mixed company.”  How does it improve the situation to “narrow” (or eliminate) the distance between the genders?

When people become desensitized to the truth of differences in gender, they will soon fail to respect the differences in gender.  Once the culture loses the respect for and respectful distance between the genders, it will be a long and painful slog to get it back — which people will certainly want once they realize what they’ve lost.

Importantly, if society is going to legislate immorality, it cannot then express surprise when its citizens start acting immorally.

And in an era in which our Nation and our military are crying out for moral leadership, that is a regrettable — and potentially dangerous — state of affairs.

Also at the Religion Clause.


One comment

  • “[I]f society is going to legislate immorality, it cannot then express surprise when its citizens start acting immorally.”

    Well said! Very well said.