Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Family Research Council continues to miscast anti-trans report it helped to write as legitimate Dept of Defense work

The Family Research Council helped to create a report which justified Trump's trans troops ban. Now they are attempting to pass it off as legitimate Department of Defense work.

With Biden's continued push for the rights of transgender Americans, the religious right is stepping up its game to spook the country via lies and distortions against the president's goals.

The latest comes from Family Research Council spokesman Peter Sprigg, who published a piece in the (very biased conservative online publication) The Federalist entitled  Biden's Transgender Military Order Is Based On Politics, Not Facts.

The title is ironic based upon the number of things in the piece Sprigg either omitted or got plain wrong. I want to point out a glaring (and deliberate) distortion and why it matters.

Sprigg said the following about Biden's recent executive order which overturned Trump's ban on transgender troops:

The Biden executive order appealed to “a meticulous, comprehensive study” issued in 2016 that asserted that allowing “transgender individuals to serve” would have “a minimal impact on military readiness and healthcare costs.” The “nonpartisan federally funded research center” that published this study was the RAND Corporation. On the other hand, said Biden, “the previous [Trump] administration relied on a review that resulted in a policy that set unnecessary barriers to military service.” Biden failed to explain this “review” was conducted by the Department of Defense. 

The findings were published in a March 2018 “Report and Recommendations.” A comparison of the RAND study with the Pentagon report helps to put the issue in perspective. Most importantly, the RAND study was speculative and released around the time the Obama policy was announced. Since transgender people had never been permitted to serve in the U.S. military, RAND could only make projections based on experiences in the private sector and in other countries. The Pentagon, on the other hand, provided actual data based on the 20 months or so of experience between when the Obama policy took effect and when the “Report and Recommendations” were issued, resulting in some interesting contrasts.

There is a reason why Sprigg attempts to trash the RAND Corporation.  It's all about credibility. The RAND Corporation has been around since 1948 and since then has provided research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces. Its reputation is sterling.

By contrast, the March 2018 study supposedly done by the Department of Defense was in fact NOT done by the Department of Defense. In truth, it was done by an ad-hoc committee brought together by former VP Mike Pence. And the members of this committee were several anti-LGBTQ activists, including Tony Perkins. Perkins is the head of the Family Research Council and Sprigg's boss. In addition, Pence pushed hard for the ban, even to the point of overruling then Defense Secretary James Mattis who saw no problems with transgender men and women severing openly in the military:

According to a Zack Ford article in Think Progress on March 25, 2018:

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern reported Friday night that, according to multiple sources, Pence played “a leading role” in creating the report, along with Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, which has been dubbed “Trump’s favorite think tank,” and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBTQ hate group. Both Heritage and FRC praised the report Friday. According to Stern’s reporting, it was true that Mattis favored allowing transgender military service, but Pence “effectively overruled” him.

 A separate source independently confirmed to ThinkProgress Saturday that Pence was involved, characterizing him as forming his own ad hoc “working group,” including Anderson and Perkins, separate from the panel of experts Mattis had assembled. Though it bears Mattis’ signature, the report released Friday appears to reflect the findings of Pence’s working group and not the committee report that Mattis submitted to Trump last month. Mattis’ original document was not currently publicly available at the time of the recommendation, but it was widely reported that Mattis favored an inclusive approach that resembled what had originally been proposed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter under President Obama in 2016. His February recommendation, also released Friday, jibes with the new report, contradicting reports at the time.

 Ford goes on to carve up the report bit by bit, revealing its continued reliance on junk science. But here is the problem I have with this entire situation. 

At my count, that's twice that the Family Research Council  has attempted to pass off a study it had a hand in creating as legitimate Department of Defense work. My guess is that they are going to do it again and will continue to do so because very few in the media seems to care enough to put them on blast. With so many overwhelming things going on, folks aren't paying attention to how the religious right is creating a false narrative with about Biden and trans right. The attempt to reconfigure how Trump's ban came into place, while ignoring how they helped to create it, is only part of their plan

They stand in front of a broad canvas slowly but surely painting in a vile masterpiece filled with vividly colorful lies about how Biden is "erasing women," ignoring science, and putting Americans - particularly children - in jeopardy in order to satisfy a tiny but very intolerant minority (that's supposed to be us) with an "agenda" aimed at destruction. 

If they are successful in this pursuit, LGBTQ Americans will be having some serious problems in the future.

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