- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Army says soldiers can self-identify who they are and not face discrimination.

The promise is contained in President Obama’s 2017 budget submission to Congress.

In the Defense Department’s budget section on the Army, it states: “From the Secretary of the Army to the youngest private, the Army remains committed to ensuring the dignity and respect of Soldiers, civilians, and their families. A part of that respect is ensuring every Soldier and civilian has the opportunity to reach their highest potential. With the recent opening of all military occupations and positions to women, the Army will have access to a broader range of talent. The Army will provide every Soldier and civilian equal opportunities to rise to the level of their merit regardless of their gender, their race, or their self-identity.”

The term “self-identity” was not contained in the sections on the other three military branches and was not found in the budgets for past years.

Cynthia O. Smith, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, told The Washington Times: “Treating all soldiers with dignity and respect is not a change in policy, it is a core value. Moreover, the language in the budget report is wholly consistent with past Army statements.”

Some observers say the term refers to transgender persons.

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How the option to self-identify will change personnel policy is unclear. Some states now are debating laws on transgender people’s access to public bathrooms for women and men. The military is working to lift the ban on transgender troops, which presumedly would require regulations on proper access to bathrooms and showers.

Regardless, “self identity” in the military is not popular among social conservatives.

“That’s an opening for just about anything. Transgender, any faith or space alien,” said Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer and critic of the Pentagon’s social agenda. “Before long, we’ll welcome anyone no matter their views or abilities. Be damned our readiness. That’s the progressives’ mantra.”

The Times asked the Office of the Secretary of Defense if “self-identity” is contained in any new personnel policies.

“The services may submit their budgetary proposals in language that they believe will allow us to understand their needs,” said spokesman Mark E. Wright. “OSD does not approve or disapprove this language. I refer you to the Army regarding their use of language.”

Under Mr. Obama, the U.S. armed forces are occupied with a social revolution.

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The military has opened the ranks to open gays, launched a legal and bureaucratic war on sexual harassment, and this year will introduce women into ground combat units in infantry, armor and special operations.

Eric Fanning is awaiting a Senate vote on his nomination as the next Army secretary, and confirmation would make him the first openly gay service secretary. Mr. Fanning had served as acting Army undersecretary.

“It looks like Fanning is wasting no time in imposing LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] law on the Army, with transgender people being treated as a civil rights minority entitled to special rights,” said Elaine Donnelly, who runs the Center for Military Readiness. “Gender dysphoria requires treatment, in the same way that other conditions in which a person’s self-identify differs from reality deserve treatment. Full implementation could have serious consequences, especially among medical personnel who may be required to provide treatment that departs from prevailing medical ethics.”

Regarding transgender individuals, the Pentagon announced this month it plans to extend health coverage for hormone therapy and mental health treatments, but not for surgeries.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has the military on a path to lift the ban on transgender people later this year, but no final decision has been made.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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