Southern Baptist leaders object to the U.S. Army’s new mandatory transgender sensitivity training, reports Baptist Press.
The training follows last year’s repeal of a ban on transgender men and women serving openly in the armed forces. Former President Obama’s defense secretary set a deadline of July 1 for fully implementing the new policy across all branches of service. Current Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently announced a six-month delay in enlisting transgender people, but those currently enlisted are allowed to transition.
Soldiers are being told they must accept soldiers of the opposite sex who feel they have a different gender in barracks, bathrooms and showers.
Andrew Walker, director of policy studies for the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), told Baptist Press that Army leaders’ acquiescence “to the demands of transgender activists is misguided.”
“Most problematically, the Army is complicit in advancing a worldview that tells fundamental distortions about what it means to be a man or a woman,” Walker said. “The Army’s actions overlook the protests of dissenting soldiers uncomfortable with the idea of sharing private spaces with members of the opposite sex, which also pose risks to religious liberty.
“It is unfortunate and lamentable that a venerable institution such as the U.S. Army is now trafficking in radical proposals about human nature,” Walker said. “While Southern Baptists want to show love and extend dignity to those who identify as transgender, the Army is wrong to make soldiering a place for political correctness.”
Also under the new policy, a man identifying as a woman can meet the lower physical fitness standards for women and can be restricted from serving in positions requiring routine exposure to direct combat.
In addition, transgender soldiers are being provided with medical care for gender transition at taxpayers’ expense.
On Thursday, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives rejected scrapping the Obama-era mandate that the Pentagon pay for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies for service members and their families.
“Democrats described the proposal as bigoted, unconstitutional and cowardly and they won support from 24 GOP lawmakers to scuttle the amendment to the annual defense policy bill, 214-209,” reports the Washington Post.
While surgery is funded by the Pentagon for service members who want it, no physical changes are necessary to be considered transgender by the military. Formally changing one’s “gender marker” under the new military guidelines is largely a matter of paperwork.
As many as 7,000 transgender troops are currently serving in the military in the active-duty force of 1.3 million, according to the Military Times.