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Army investigating social media post by chaplain who asked if transgender people unfit to serve

The Army has cautioned service members to proceed carefully when using Facebook or other sites.

Published: January 27, 2021 8:42pm

Updated: January 28, 2021 10:05am

Army officials are investigating comments on social media by a Fort Hood chaplain who questioned whether transgender people are mentally unfit to serve in the military.

The chaplain, Army Maj. Andrew Calvert, wrote the comments under a Facebook post from Army Times, a civilian publication, about President Joe Biden's recent order to reverse the ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces.

"How is rejecting reality (biology) not evidence that a person is mentally unfit (ill), and thus making that person unqualified to serve,” Maj. Calvert apparently wrote on Monday under the Army Times post. "There is little difference in this than over those who believe and argue for a 'flat earth,' despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary."

In response to people who challenged his views, Calvert apparently wrote that he wasn't being extreme. "The most nurturing counsel I can give to someone who is under the delusion of transgenderism (gender dysphoria) is to recommend professional counseling to assist in the healing process," an account attributed to Calvert wrote. "To not do so, and merely to pander to make-believe social whims of the moment, is not only damaging but idiocy."

The comments brought a swift response from the command that oversees the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade, where Calvert is assigned.

"We are aware of the recent comments posted to the Army Times Facebook in regard to the ban being removed on transgender service members," the Security Force Assistance Command wrote in a statement. "This incident is under investigation."

The Army did not immediately respond to Just the News when asked to describe the nature of the investigation. Similarly, the command did not immediately respond to a request to speak to Maj. Calvert. 

The comments prompted sparring among social media users at a time when Biden's order has rekindled the debate over whether transgender people should serve in the military.

Lloyd Austin, the newly installed Secretary of Defense, on Monday declared that he approves the Biden policy.

"I fully support the President's direction that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination," Austin wrote on the Pentagon website.

One activist said that the executive order does not go far enough. Retired Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, who transitioned from male to female after leaving the service in 2011, said in a video presentation that the order by its nature is transient.

"If it's only an executive order, then we are in a semi-permanent state," Beck said in the Jan. 25 video. The rule that allows transgender people to openly serve should be guaranteed in a bill or in an amendment to the Constitution, Beck said.

Others critiqued the new policy, primarily for what it will mean to the force overall. Among them is retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, a defense specialist at the Heritage Foundation. 

"The Biden Administration's decision to allow unrestricted service by transgender individuals — without regard to whether they suffer from gender dysphoria — ignores medical evidence that transgender individuals with gender dysphoria have a much greater risk of mental injury and disability, and are not qualified for military service," Spoehr wrote in a statement. "The change will also result in a direct negative impact on military readiness linked to service members who are less able to deploy and perform their individual missions. The decision also directly exposes individuals who are at higher risk from mental injury to increased stress and danger."

While the investigation into the online comments continues, the Army has cautioned service members to proceed carefully when using Facebook or other sites.

"Always remember to 'Think, Type, Post' when it comes to engaging in conversation on social media platforms," Security Force Assistance Command advised on Twitter. "We are Soldiers 24/7 and that means always treating people with dignity and respect."

The Pentagon has not yet implemented the new order from Biden, but will spend the next two months preparing for the change.

"Over the next 60 days, I look forward to working with the senior civilian and military leaders of the Department as we expeditiously develop the appropriate policies and procedures to implement these changes," Austin wrote.

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