An Open Letter To: The Joint Staff, Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff, And Senior Enlisted Advisor To The Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff

DATE: 18 JULY, 2017

FOR: THE JOINT STAFF, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, AND SENIOR ENLISTED ADVISOR TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF

FROM: Jamie Shupe

SUBJECT: Transgender Military Policy And Service

For those of you who are not familiar with me, I will provide some brief background. On June 10, 2016, I was declared as the first legally non-binary person in the United States. What that means is an Oregon judge declared my sex is neither male or female. As a result of that court order, The State of Oregon issued me a State ID on July 3, 2017 with an “X” as my sex identifier. On November 1, 2016, Washington, D.C. removed the sex from my birth certificate; the first time in the history of Washington, D.C. that such a document was issued. I am a Sergeant First Class, who retired from the 10th Mountain Division. I was awarded the Army Achievement Medal 8 times, the Army Commendation Medal four times, and the Meritorious Service Medal twice. I was the Distinguished Honor Graduate from my BNCOC class and the top academic graduate in my ANCOC class. My entry ASVAB score was 125 when I first enlisted and 121 on my subsequent reentry after a six month break in service. I once scored a perfect score on my MOS Qualification Test, one of only a handful to do so at Fort Hood. I’ve scored 300 numerous times on the Army Physical Fitness Test. I’ve shot 40 out of 40 on the rifle range. I’ve marched the 100 miles of Nijmegan on the team that finished first. I was a Master Fitness Trainer, an Equal Opportunity Representative, and an Information Systems Security Officer. I have no history of disciplinary actions during my service. This is some of my military and personal history and some of my qualifications as a former transgender service member.

The reason I am writing is because I have serious reservations about not only how transgender military policy is currently being shaped, but also about some of the voices that are being allowed to shape it.

Prior to having my sex declared as non-binary, I lived for three and a half years as a male to female transgender woman. During that time, I refused to have any surgeries because of the high complication rates and the fact that I know that these surgeries don’t actually change anyone’s sex. Throughout that time I was on hormone replacement therapy and I still am. So I understand the strengths and weaknesses of that treatment as well. Over the past four years I have spent my days studying the transgender community and gender dysphoria. I’ve read and archived tens of thousands of articles about transgender people and about those who treat us.

In this letter, rather than just express personal opinions, I am instead going to back up what I have to say with excerpts from some of those news articles about members of the transgender community. I’m well versed in this subject because I’ve spent nearly every day of the last four years studying and documenting this community. I am the custodian of the Transgender.News and Transgender.Wiki websites.

THE MYTH THAT HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY IS HARMLESS

Navy Seal Kristin Beck admits to having stopped hormone treatments because of kidney problems. I too have had a multitude of problems with the treatment. In January of this year I ended up in the Emergency room with swollen legs and had to be tested for blood clots. The treatment has also left my mood unstable at times.

“She’s now stopped the hormone therapy because it was damaging her kidneys, and she’s decided not to have surgery.”

http://www.gq.com/story/kristin-beck-transgender-navy-seal

In this article, a transgender woman admits that hormone replacement therapy was a failure in changing her body and growing breasts. My experience has been exactly the same. Four years later I still look like a male, but I do have some breast growth which I’m content with. This article however demonstrates that those with severe gender dysphoria cannot achieve happiness and will continue to seek out more and more surgeries.

“Yet as a middle-aged late transitioning trans-woman, after four years on hormones, without enhancements in my chest, I basically look like an overweight middle-aged man.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15416178.Discrimination_claim_as_trans_women_rejected_for_breast_surgery/?

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the death of service member Rowan Elijah Feldhaus, who died after a hysterectomy at a Georgia military medical facility. Friends are cited as claiming the surgery was part of Rowan’s transition.

“A local transgender man fought for his right to legally change his name in court died after complications with surgery. Last week, Feldhaus went under the knife for one of his gender transition surgeries and there were complications.”

“It was complications post surgery and then he was readmitted post surgery and it started snowballing from there,” his friend, Austin Atkins, said.”

http://www.wrdw.com/content/news/Local-transgendered-man-fighting-for-his-life-422389733.html

Advocates however have tried to frame Rowan’s death as being from polycystic ovary syndrome, which I believe is disingenuous at best.

“Eisenhower Army Medical Center as treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome.”

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/2017-05-17/friends-grieve-death-transgender-man-who-petitioned-name-change

The Center for Transgender Excellence at the University of San Francisco is quite clear about the risks of testosterone therapy in female to male transsexuals. If Rowan had polycystic ovary syndrome, then it most likely came from the testosterone injections.

“The use of testosterone often results in estrogen deficient, atrophic vaginal tissues akin to a post-menopausal state in cisgender women.[11-13] These atrophic vaginal tissues represent a decline in tissue resilience, skin barrier function, and increased susceptibility to altered microbial environment and resistance which may result in bacterial vaginosis, cystitis, or cervicitis.”

http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/trans?page=guidelines-pain-transmen

THE MYTH THAT GENITAL SURGERIES EFFECTIVELY TREAT GENDER DYSPHORIA

In this article a transgender woman admits that genital surgery didn’t cure her dysphoria.

“What makes it so special for me is a love with someone who gets me on so many levels,” Kara says. “With Jacqui being trans, she gets the dysphoria I still go through sometimes.”

http://www.eclectablog.com/2016/10/karas-story-finding-her-truth-and-true-love.html

I left the military with PTSD and I spent several years in mental health support groups seeking support for it. I also spent a couple of years in transgender support groups seeking support for that as well at the same time. But in those two groups I noticed some disturbing patterns. What those patterns showed was that members of both groups were consistently clinging to some new cure for their respective problem. In the PTSD group people regularly showed up expressing hope that some untried medicine or that some new exercise or meditation regimen would cure them. Some even believed just having more money would solve their mental health problems. In the transgender support group, the belief for many was that surgeries would cure them of their gender dysphoria. If they just had one or more surgeries all of their problems would go away, they would tell themselves.

“Much of what you can find about gender-affirming surgeries like vaginoplasty makes you think that after you’ve had one, all your problems fade away and your life becomes instantaneously better.”

https://www.vox.com/2016/3/7/11162180/gender-affirming-surgery-transition

“My mental health has never been stable, but I know with the right body, and being able to live, laugh and love as Lexi, I will be saved.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/lexi-lyrux/transition_b_17324960.html

An interesting question for all parties is how these surgeries suddenly became such a focus in the transgender community since 2009 when Mara Keisling of the NCTE said this.

“One misconception is that transitioning requires surgery. It doesn’t. As Mara Keisling, the Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) told me, “Most transsexuals don’t get surgery. This is about gender identity, not about genitals.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-pro-bono-transgender-primer/

The answer to that question comes from those that benefit from getting our government to pay for these procedures. I urge you to refuse to participate in doing so.

http://marcibowers.com/mtf/victory-medicare-to-cover-transgender-services/

THE MYTH THAT THESE SURGERIES AREN’T DANGEROUS

As noted above, Rowan Feldhaus has already died from a transgender related surgery on a military base. But for anyone willing to look there’s plenty of evidence of how often these surgeries not only go wrong, but also result in serious complications.

“Jennifer was set to have her procedure done in Thailand when, at the last minute, a Los Angeles-based surgeon offered her a discount if she would agree to be featured in a documentary on her surgery. Even so, she says, “Paying for it took everything I had.” But a host of complications and nearly a dozen emergency surgeries had her in and out of the hospital for ten months, and the no-frills insurance policy she bought before her transition, like all policies, had its limits.”

http://www.gq.com/story/ahca-health-care-trans-americans

Despite having the best surgeon money can buy this transgender woman is now wearing a colostomy bag as a result of her belief that she’s really a woman.

http://bilerico.lgbtqnation.com/2010/06/sex_reassignment_surgery_when_things_go_wrong.php

Others who previously had healthy bodies, but who have also been maimed can be found here. There’s plenty of these references readily available on the Internet, but I suspect that they haven’t been provided to you as part of the decision making process.

http://gomag.com/article/hard-coping-complications-gender-affirmation-surgery/

Not only should the military not be participating in these surgeries because of the risks to the patients themselves, but also because of the lost duty time, and the even more serious issue of the military potentially having to pay disability pay when these surgeries go horribly wrong. Which they often do.

Having been a former service member, I understand the dynamics of unit cohesion. And unit members have no respect for other service members that are not available for duty or that can’t deploy. Nothing about this improves readiness or fosters national security.

THE MYTH THAT HORMONE TREATMENTS EQUALIZE THE PERFORMANCE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SEXES

“Aron Taylor of Jacksonville finished with the time of 3:42:51, winning first place in her age division. She says this is the first marathon she’s ever participated in and hopes to someday race in Boston.”

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/first-transgender-woman-finishes-jacksonville-marathon/372266597

Aron Taylor is a former male Marine who’s now a transgender female. The photos clearly show that Aron still has so much muscle mass that she’s able to crush female competitors. How many people win the first marathon they’ve ever competed in?

This next article is an example of the level of mental illness that can be reached over sports issues and while attempting to hide transgender status.

“A former champion fell-runner has been jailed for attempted murder following a row about her testosterone levels after it emerged she was transgender.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/14/champion-runner-wanted-compete-woman-jailed-attempted-murder/

Transgender advocates have tried to sell everyone on the idea that trans women competing in sporting events have no advantage because they don’t have any testosterone. This actually harms them. And the military is taking on a huge burden in trying to regulate these hormones levels to achieve fairness in previously simple things like physical fitness testing. If I haven’t been able to sold on this, then you shouldn’t be either. It’s fraud that will harm female service members.

Here a transgender woman filed a human rights complaint because she has no testosterone and demands to have some.

“Testosterone supplements are banned as performance enhancing, but Toronto-based Worley — unable to produce any sex hormones naturally — says she needs them just to stay healthy and not fall behind other cyclists.”

http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-cyclist-who-became-woman-challenges-world-sports-bodies-gender-rules/wcm/fafffe27-a41c-47ab-a1ff-4c0fef1d7fad

The news media is full of stories like this of transgender women having first place finishes at major sporting events while competing as women based on gender identity, while still having male bodies.

http://tucson.com/sports/local/transgender-cyclist-is-top-female-finisher-at-el-tour-de/article_2c7d291f-4376-57a6-9578-3831353032bc.html

There also doesn’t seem to be any discussion about the obvious advantages that biological males will retain despite transitioning and the impact that this will have on the promotion system by achieving higher fitness test scores or by them winning athletic events.

“Age, height, race, and sex influence lung size and function. It is well known that normal adult males have larger lungs than females with similar age, height, and ethnicity.”

https://www.aarc.org/aarc-membership/community/specialty-sections/diagnostics/diagnostics-section-bulletins/fallwinter-2016-diagnostics-section-bulletin/#1

“The female pelvis has evolved to its maximum width for childbirth and the male pelvis has been optimized for bipedal locomotion.”

https://www.boundless.com/physiology/textbooks/boundless-anatomy-and-physiology-textbook/skeletal-system-parts-of-the-skeleton-7/the-hip-87/comparison-of-female-and-male-pelves-493-4533/

“Meanwhile, height and weight standards also differ for male and female sailors. A male sailor who is within standards at 5′ 3″, 155 pounds and plans to transition to female must then meet standards for female sailors, which set the maximum weight for that height at 152 pounds.”

There’s also clear evidence that trying to fit biological male bodies into biologically female height and weight standards is going to cause harm to transgender service members.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/11/07/navy-no-exceptions-fitness-standards-transgender-sailors.html

THE MYTH THAT NO HARM IS BEING DONE TO FEMALE SERVICE MEMBERS

If the potential and real harm to female service members isn’t obvious enough at the physical fitness level, it’s even more concerning to ask the question of: do biological males who transition to living as women suddenly get to claim titles of being first in something as military women? How is this fair to all of the women that have served this nation?

“A transgender soldier in the British army has become the first female to serve on the frontline.”

“Guardsman Chloe Allen said she hoped to inspire others to be themselves, after speaking out about beginning the process of gender reassignment.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/17/transgender-soldier-is-first-female-to-serve-on-the-front-line

“There won’t be any exceptions to certain policies once that gender marker is changed,” Ireland said. “We don’t want this gray area. We don’t want a third gender.”

https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/air-force-releases-guidance-on-transgender-airmen

At this point, my concerns as an Army retiree are that the most unhealthy elements of the transgender community have been allowed to shape military transgender policy and potentially set the stage for the Armed Forces to become essentially surgery clinics for their gender dysphoria problem. This not only does nothing for readiness, it also harms the very diverse transgender community itself, and may ultimately keep us from being able to serve altogether. I didn’t serve and strive for excellence all of those years to have that happen.

What my experience as a former transgender member has taught me is that the best thing the military could have did for me would have been to allow me to serve without the threat of penalty or of career damage just for being a transgender person. Alleviating the threat of discharge for being what I am was more needed than any sort of transgender medical care. My opinion as a former enlisted leader is that if you need significant medical intervention to serve, then you’re not fit to serve. The military should also guard against allowing transgender service members who need extensive medical treatments to formulate policy concerning their service.

My formal recommendation to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rest of the military leadership is to institute a policy of allowing transgender members to serve this nation without having to hide their transgender status, providing that they don’t require medical treatments to alleviate their gender dysphoria. These service members should serve as their biological sex, but also have the ability to change their gender designation if needed on discharge records, or to receive medical care after their military service.

Respectfully submitted,

Jamie Shupe
SFC, USA Retired

(An official copy of this letter was mailed to the Office Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff on July 18, 2017)