The Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force has stood up for the country’s transgender troops amid a “hysterical” debate over their gender reassignment surgery.
Politicians including Pauline Hanson, Cory Bernardi and Liberal MP Andrew Hastie seized on a report by News Corp last week that more than $1 million had been spent on 17 soldiers’ reassignment surgeries since 2012 and all called for the funding to be redirected.
Vice Admiral Ray Griggs (pictured, right), the second-highest ranking member of the ADF, was asked about the issue at a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, according to SBS.
“These are people who are wearing the uniform of this country and serving this country,” he said.
“They deserve to be treated with [the] respect that any other member of the ADF is treated with.
“[Gender dysphoria] is a resolvable mental health condition, it sometimes requires surgery and sometimes it doesn’t.
“The aim here is not to lose talented individuals whom we have spent many, many millions of dollars in training. Many, many times more than one million dollars worth of treatment.”
Griggs said he had found the public debate around the issue “to be almost bordering on hysterical.”
“We can only fight and win as a team and we can only do that, like any team, if we respect each other,” he said.
Defence Minister Marise Payne told the Senate last week the allocated funds were a small fraction of the ADF’s annual health budget and gender dysphoria is managed “in accordance with best practice clinical guidelines, under the same principles as any other health condition.”