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Troops may be punished for rejecting preferred pronouns, experts warn

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers' boots. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)
April 24, 2024

American troops could be formally punished if they refuse to use a service member’s preferred pronouns, military experts warn.

Capt. Thomas Wheatley, assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that a 2020 Equal Opportunity law could allow troops to face charges related to harassment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) if they refuse to cater to a transgender service member’s gender identity.

The United States military “is right to want to protect the rights and welfare of its transgender service members. But it owes the same protection to those who share a different perspective on the issue, especially when that perspective is a deep-seated expression of personal conscience,” Wheatley said.

Wheatley noted that the military does not have any rule explicitly barring “misgendering” as understood by the LGBTQ community, but current guidance implies troops are in violation of Military Equal Opportunity regulations against harassment and discrimination based on sex if they use “incorrect” pronouns.

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American troops could be court-martialed for “refusing to use another person’s self-identified pronouns, even when their refusal stems from principled religious conviction,” Wheatley warned.

“This law applies to service members at all times and in all locations, even when they’re off duty and in the privacy of their off-post residence,” he added.

William Thibeau, director of the Claremont Institute’s American Military Project, accused the “military policy and legal infrastructure” of existing “to wage war on Americans with deeply-held traditional beliefs about man and woman.”

Thibeau urged lawmakers to “end this tyranny of liberalism before it is formally levied against American Soldiers preferring to live in reality.”