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Posted on Mar 4, 2020 Print this Article

LGBT Activists Promote Fake Pentagon Troop Survey

Perception Management (PM) Tactics Promote LGBT Goals

Nationwide impositions of transgender ideology, such as boys taking girls’ places on athletic teams and sex-change treatments for gender-confused children, are becoming more extreme and problematic.  During the Obama Administration, officials tried to force the transgender agenda on civilian schools and our military, but the Trump Administration started pushing back.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis responded to military leaders’ concerns by initiating a comprehensive study of policies regarding persons who identify as transgender or suffer from gender dysphoria.  In March 2018, President Trump approved Mattis’ recommendations for a new transgender policy, which assigned priority to operational readiness and combat lethality.

Transgender activists are not giving up; they are doubling down to win.  House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Adam Smith (D-CA) announced in January that he will push for legislation to re-establish and codify Obama-era transgender policies.

Now Chairman Smith has a new tool to accomplish that goal.  A previously undisclosed two-year old academic survey, which the Military Times mislabeled  a  “Pentagon study,” claims  that “Two-thirds of troops support allowing transgender servicemembers in the military.”

Credibility of the story collapses under closer examination, but some activists and media allies will try to use it to mislead members of Congress, Pentagon officials, and the courts.  

PM: Convincing People to Believe False "Facts"

The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) has learned that there was no Department of Defense (DoD) funding for this survey, which explains why the report provided no evidence of Pentagon authorization, endorsement, or funding.

This was a feelings-oriented micro poll of self-selected respondents, done in 2017-2018 by social service academics affiliated with two California universities (UCLA and USC).  Their 7-page report, titled Support for Transgender Military Service from Active Duty United States Military Personnel, reflected zero curiosity about military readiness. 

Survey authors drew heavily on LGBT sources, used a “woke” ideological vocabulary, and employed dubious methodology dressed up with statistical jargon.  The resulting polemic epitomized what the Defense Department has called “perception management,” or PM

In both the civilian and military worlds, PM tactics create false “facts” and convince people to believe them.  PM tactics go beyond “spin” or “disinformation" to manufacture fake perceptions and skew public opinion to achieve political outcomes.

Security rules protect the email addresses of active-duty personnel, so the California survey authors used military social media networks, advertising, college campus flyers, and $25 stipends to recruit participants.  They probably asked respondents basic questions about age, background, and military service, without “verifying” anything. 

The academic survey asked a single question, “Should transgender people be allowed to serve in the military?”  It did not ask  about known military consequences of the Obama-era policy, which were analyzed in the Pentagon’s detailed official report.

These would include expensive medical treatments and sometimes surgeries, significant lost time and non-deployability, conflicts of conscience for medical personnel forced to provide therapies or surgeries that many consider unethical, mandatory training  to enforce use of reality-denying pronouns, challenges against religious liberty, privacy violations in women’s facilities, and male incursions into female athletic programs. 

Major issues  like these didn’t fit the pre-conceived “narrative.”

Questions About Funding, Methodology, and Conclusions

The survey polled only 540 participants, with 58 identified as transgenders and 187 (38%) being described as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.  The word “cisgender” usually means heterosexual, but in this survey, “cisgender” participants  were redefined as “heterosexual, lesbian, gay, and bisexual.”

With 187 lesbian, gay, and bisexual “cisgender” personnel combined with 58 transgenders (whose opinions were predictable but not counted), the percentage of respondents likely to support the authors’ pre-determined goals totaled 45%

This methodology was as contrived and deceptive as it gets.  The survey report also concluded with incoherent pro-transgenders in the military paragraphs that appear to have been tacked on just before release. 

Managing Perceptions to Achieve Political Goals

Instead of buying this fabulist product, members of Congress should question its purpose and origins.  In June or July 2017, high-level Obama holdovers were still making policy and celebrating “LGBT Pride Month” at the Pentagon.  The unscientific  survey ran between August 2017 and March 2018, but it wasn’t rolled out until now.

Why now?  Several reasons come to mind.

For example, to manage and promote reality-denying perceptions, some activists and media allies will try to swap the skewed academic survey for the official, readiness-oriented Defense Department report on transgenders in the military. 

Unlike the California academic project, the Pentagon gathered and published empirical data about operational issues such as significant lost time and 300% increases in medical costs for transgender personnel who identified themselves during the Obama Administration.  President Trump relied on that comprehensive review when he approved Secretary Mattis' recommendations for a new transgender policy in March 2018.

In the federal courts, lawyers trying to nullify the Trump/Mattis transgender policy are likely to misrepresent the California survey as “credible evidence” in ongoing litigation against the Trump/Mattis policy.

We also could see a replay of what happened in 2010, when then-Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson co-chaired the Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) established to “study” the consequences of repealing the 1993 law regarding gays in the military. 

The CRWG conducted an official survey of 400,000 active-duty and reserve troops and families, asking participants whether Congress should repeal the law.  Due to premature leaks of the CRWG survey’s findings, the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) launched an investigation.

Thanks to the DoD Inspector General’s report, we now know that CRWG Co-Chairman Jeh Johnson was pre-scripting survey conclusions early in July, before the survey instrument was even sent out.  (The DoD IG report was withheld from public view, but an unknown source sent it to CMR.)

The investigation also revealed that shortly after a White House meeting with five LGBT advocates and administration leaders on November 9, 2010, the Washington Post published a banner headline article claiming that “70%” of the surveyed troops had no problem with repeal of the 1993 law. 

Media allies and Senate debaters kept emphasized the misleading money quote, which was allowed to stand even though substantial survey findings to the contrary were in the actual report that was released on November 30, 2010.  PM tactics eclipsed all survey findings that didn’t support the desired narrative.

Coupled with glib promises that the administration had no intention of keeping, the perception management campaign worked.  Congress repealed the 1993 law on the third try, during the 2010 lame-duck session.  

Consequences predicted at the time included same-sex marriages on military bases, associated benefits and extension of LGBT law to include transgender personnel, multiple violations of religious liberty, and increases in sexual assaults on both men and women.  All expectations were, unfortunately, proven true.

Today’s Congress should not fall for the same PM tactics, especially when the Trump/Mattis policy has a good chance of being upheld as constitutional when it reaches the Supreme Court.   

The Trump/Mattis policy, which assigns priority to medical considerations, operational readiness, and combat lethality, deserves continued support. 

With so many issues at stake, no one should be fooled by faux surveys designed to deceive.

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The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) is an independent public policy organization that reports on and analyzes military/social issues.  More information is available on our website,  Tax-deductible contributions to support CMR's work can be made by clicking here.


Posted on Mar 4, 2020 Print this Article