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AMA claims there's 'no medically valid reason' to exclude transgender people from military service

The AMA told Defense Secretary James Mattis that there's "no medically valid reason" to exclude transgender people from military service. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

There is "no medically valid reason" to exclude transgender people from military service, according to the American Medical Association.

On Wednesday, the AMA sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis that states it believes transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.

“We believe there is no medically valid reason — including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — to exclude transgender individuals from military service,” wrote AMA CEO James L. Madera, M.D., in a letter first reported by Politico. “Transgender individuals have served, and continue to serve, our country with honor, and we believe they should be allowed to continue doing so.”

What's the story?

Last month, President Donald Trump issued orders banning transgender people who require surgery or significant treatment, such as hormone therapy, from serving in the military, with an exception for select cases. Those already serving could continue as long as they don't require such treatments.

The policy, "developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans" would "enhance our military’s readiness, lethality, and effectiveness," the White House said in a statement March 23.

"This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards — including those regarding the use of medical drugs — equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen," the statement said.

But the AMA's recommendation follows similar recommendations issued previously by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

What does the AMA say about transgender people who need treatment?

The AMA doesn't believe those who need treatment for gender dysphoria should be cause for exclusion.

Madera said that the Defense Department “mischaracterized and rejected the wide body of peer-reviewed research on the effectiveness of transgender medical care” adding that "medical care for gender dysphoria is effective."

“The financial cost is negligible and a rounding error in the defense budget,” Madara wrote. “It should not be used as a reason to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country. We should be honoring their service.”

What's the diagnostic definition of gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria "involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify," according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders also known as the DSM V, which is used to diagnose psychiatric disorders.

"People with gender dysphoria may often experience significant distress and/or problems functioning associated with this conflict between the way they feel and think of themselves (referred to as experienced or expressed gender) and their physical or assigned gender."

What else?

Many mood and behavioral disorders disqualify people from joining the military, including a history of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, as well as other acute reactions to stress.

And there are physical conditions that can also disqualify a person from serving, including flat feet, severe acne, vision problems, severe ingrown toenails, and having braces on your teeth or too many cavities.

You can check out the full list of disqualifiers at Military.com.

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