Rice U. expert available to discuss ban on transgender service in the military

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations

David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Rice U. expert available to discuss ban on transgender service in the military

HOUSTON – (July 27, 2017) – As the public reacts to President Donald Trump’s July 26 Twitter announcement banning all transgender individuals from military service, Tom Kolditz, director of Rice University’s Doerr Institute for New Leaders and a retired brigadier general, is available to discuss the topic.

Kolditz served on two national commissions studying transgender service in the military and has significant knowledge of the studies of this issue. He said that the past total ban on transgender service is based on a 40-year-old medical opinion that has been rejected by psychologists and psychiatrists.

“After multiple studies, DoD determined that rather than a total ban, which was discriminatory based on a class of people, DoD would treat transgender as any other medical condition and reject transgender people with significant medical or psychological problems, but let well-adjusted transgender individuals serve,” Kolditz said. “Costs and personnel numbers are tiny, and arguments about spending and readiness are simply unsubstantiated.”

Kolditz said that the most significant leadership issue at hand — aside from “the bizarre, uncoordinated tweeting of sweeping defense policy by a commander in chief” — is that the decision impinges upon military organizational values of dignity and respect for others.

“When those organizational values are weakened, the result is dangerous, disrespectful behavior, such as sexual assault, harassment and bullying, and war zone atrocities,” he said. “Transgender persons in the military are placed at physical risk when a president or military leader disabuses their legitimacy in a public way.”

Kolditz led the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy for 12 years. In that role, he was responsible for West Point’s teaching, research and outreach activities in management, leader development science, psychology and sociology and was given the title of professor emeritus after retirement.

A highly experienced global leader, Kolditz has focused his career on leading organizations himself or studying leadership and leadership policy across sectors. He served for two years as a leadership and human resources policy analyst in the Pentagon and a year as a concept developer in the Center for Army Leadership. He was the founding director of the West Point Leadership Center. Kolditz’s full bio is available online at https://doerr.rice.edu/content/tom-kolditz-0.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Kolditz, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations, at 713-348-6327 or david@rice.edu.


Related materials:

Doerr Institute for New Leaders website: https://doerr.rice.edu/
Tom Kolditz bio: https://doerr.rice.edu/content/tom-kolditz-0

Image for download:

Photo link: http://news.rice.edu/files/2017/07/Tom-Kolditz-Resized_0-16wh6ma.jpg
Photo credit: Rice University’s Doerr Institute

Kolditz in the news:

NBC News: Trump’s Tweets May Leave Transgender Service Members ‘In Harm’s Way’

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.