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Transgender Air Force Academy Grad

Army Chaplain (Maj.) Andrew Calvert, pictured as a captain. (U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School photo.)

As a transgender veteran, supporter and client of Mikey Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I feel compelled to respond to Army Chaplain Major Andrew Calvert’s January Facebook comments that landed him in hot water with the Army brass.

The Major implies that acknowledgment of a transgender individual is “rejecting biology.” He ostensively believes rejecting science constitutes mental illness and disqualifies transgender individuals from serving in the military.

Major Calvert, you obviously didn’t major in science.

There are many studies and articles that explain the transgender experience from a scientific perspective. I will paraphrase and quote from an article that appeared in Scientific American in June 2019.

“A newly fertilized embryo initially develops without any indication of its sex. At around five weeks, a group of cells clump together, the bipotential primordium. These cells are neither male nor female but have the potential to turn into testes, ovaries or neither.” The SRY gene then influences the cells. These cells can respond in harmony or out of sync. 

The Major seems incapable of recognizing that gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs, and sexual orientation is between the sheets.

To boil it down, and as it has been so well said by others on this very same subject, the Major seems incapable of recognizing that gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs, and sexual orientation is between the sheets.

But the SRY gene just gets things started. There are other genes involved at different times of development that influence sexual characteristics. Still, this just defines the physical sex and does not address behavioral sex, or gender. There’s a whole other set of complex processes going on that define gender. Sometimes things line up and sometimes not.

To boil it down, and as it has been so well said by others on this very same subject, the Major seems incapable of recognizing that gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs, and sexual orientation is between the sheets.

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Since each of these is non-binary, they are each a continuum of possibilities and together offer an infinite number of combinations, a cacophony of multichromatic variations. Just like everything else in the world, it is not simply black and white. See how complex and varied science and reality are, Major?

Transgender individuals are those whose sex is not aligned with their gender. They want to live in alignment and seek to make it so. However, there is another group of individuals that the Major has not yet denigrated that are in a similar or possibly worse situation. Those are intersex individuals.

In their case, their ‘God-given’ biology, as the Major thinks of it, is ambiguous. Unfortunately for some, doctors surgically altered their genitalia when they were infants, sometimes based on a coin toss. Major, does this make these people mentally ill as well? Did your God make a mistake? Major, how do you view these people whose alignment of sex and gender was taken away from them? Is anything that doesn’t fit your monochromatic view of existence constitute mental illness and worthy of your condemnation?

Neither sex, gender, or sexual orientation have any impact on a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, or guardian’s ability to serve their country. In fact, the courage they have shown in the face of social stigma, ridicule, hate, discrimination, and physical threats bear witness to the strength and integrity they bring to their military mission every single day. (ref: palmcenter.org/publication)

As a chaplain, the Major should be more focused on supporting and aiding the troops than tearing apart good order, morale, discipline, and unit cohesiveness by persecuting a minority within the ranks.

Ultimately, the question should be, can an individual who happens to be transgender or intersex get the job done, not are a cult’s beliefs offended by their existence. It doesn’t sound like Major Calvert is getting his job done.

Major, since it appears you are the one rejecting science, maybe, by your own logic, that makes you unfit to serve. I think that sums up your General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand.

Fortunately, there are tenacious civil rights advocacy organizations such as the MRFF who recognize and fight Major Calvert’s type of disloyalty to the troops. MRFF fights for all military members to be able to get the mission done without the overburden, interference, or fear levied by religious zealots who misuse and abuse faith to justify their ignorance and apathy for their fellow human beings.

This contributor is a USAF Academy graduate, Retired USAF officer and an Aerospace Engineer with multiple degrees in engineering and national security. A proud transgender veteran and MRFF client who continues to contribute to the nation and the U.S. military mission.

Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF)