July 10, 2018
While the two parties get ready to rumble over Justice Anthony Kennedy's replacement, there'll be no argument over one thing: just how important the courts have become. Republicans and Democrats may be animated over President Trump's SCOTUS pick, Brett Kavanaugh, but it's because they all agree -- the courts' decisions are affecting every facet of American life. And the latest debate at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is living proof.
With the exception of Barack Obama and his administration, there aren't a whole lot of Americans clamoring to spend their taxpayer dollars gender reassignment surgeries. The 44th president did his best to force the issue, insisting the VA, HHS, and Defense Department make these procedures the newest (and most controversial) obligation of unwilling Americans. Then, to our great relief, voters elected Donald Trump -- many, based on his pledge that he would do away with the radical social experimentation of his predecessor.
Fortunately, they didn't have to wait long. The new commander-in-chief rolled back the transgender policy in the military and did his best to put the brakes on the fierce debate over taxpayer-funded sex changes. Everything was going according to plan -- until the courts got involved. At least two military veterans decided to sue the Trump administration into an all-expenses-paid gender transition (which, if you ask medical professionals, hasn't proven effective in treating serious mental health conditions like this one). Now, thanks to the courts, the VA is under significant pressure to reconsider its position on covering gender reassignment surgeries for vets.
Last Friday, the VA put out its first official "feelers" on the issue with a request for public comment. And while liberals insist that the department is just "going through the motions," there's no telling what the activist courts (which have become quite fond of stripping this president of his constitutional authority) will demand next. The VA did point out that the Defense Department memo on the president's transgender policy "noted considerable scientific uncertainty and overall lack of high quality scientific evidence demonstrating the extent to which transition-related treatments, such as sex reassignment surgery remedy the multifaceted mental health problems associated with gender dysphoria."
That's certainly in keeping with the latest research from Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, both of which wrote in JAMA that despite what the sexual extremists might say, there's absolutely no conclusive evidence that procedures like gender reassignment are actually helping people. (Obama's CDC admitted as much in 2016.) In fact, part of the VA's hesitation is spelled out in its public comment page. One of the questions they ask is: "Given the challenge of the high rates of Veteran suicide, what does the evidence, including peer-reviewed evidence, suggest about the impact of gender alterations on the rates of suicide and suicide ideation among those suffering from gender dysphoria?"
FRC's Peter Sprigg knows the answer to that one. In several of his papers, he cites a very important 2011 Swedish study, which showed that even AFTER having gender reassignment surgery, people who identify as transgender had a suicide rate 19 times higher than the general population. That completely undermines Obama's suggestion that giving people who identify as transgender everything they ask for will do anything to reduce their suicide rate. On the contrary, extreme policies like this one come at the expense of the population they claim to help!
Then, of course, there's the sky-high price tag (which the other side denies). "It's just a ridiculous argument that this is going to be some costly issue that they have to cover," said Sasha Buchert, the attorney representing the veterans. But, as Peter has pointed out, it's not as ridiculous as Sasha thinks! Male-to-female surgery would cost a whopping $110,450 per person, and female-to-male up to $89,050. And that doesn't include the rounds of pre- and post-hormone therapy!
When America's heroes can't even get the routine care they need, surely we can think of a better investment than this one -- a radical procedure that too many patients live to regret. To voice your concerns, visit the VA website and click the blue "Comment Now!" button on the upper right.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.